The Interview | June 2019
To celebrate the publication of her debut book “Moonhold”, we sit down for an intimate conversation with its author Lubomira Kourteva to discuss her book as well as other interesting topics such as vulnerability, peeling cinnamon, emotional intelligence, soul contracts, the spiritual meaning of love and purpose, modern relationships and marriage, her international humanitarian work, and the need for connectedness in our world.
Q. You mentioned you’ve never written poetry until last year. What inspired you to publish your first book in poetry? When did it begin?
It began on a summer day when a blue eyed girl was born and her parents named her Lubomira, which means “love and peace” (smiles). I did actually find the first poem that I had ever written when I was nine years old in my old diary. I still have this poem and keep it close. It reminds me of where we all come from with the purity of a child’s heart. It is quite spiritual which doesn’t surprise me because as children we are observers but also very connected to the natural world. We often feel what is only later understood.
I’ve always been a lover and a romantic at heart, and people would say that I have a very poetic soul and way of language. I did write some love poems when I was little, but it was never anything that continued seriously thereafter, and I’ve never really read poetry to be honest nor studied it. I loved Shakespeare for example, and love stories and novels but that’s it. Though I’ve received quite a few poems and handwritten letters from men throughout my life and always thought that it was deeply romantic, it charmed me for sure.
I’ve always written ever since I was a child, I have so many diaries. And I feel I’ve always written stories even before I knew it. As a child, it was perhaps a way for me to observe, notice and understand the world around me – and unconsciously, to see how it all interconnects. Because I remember that I’d often go back to an old diary just to see how things unfolded after – and how right I was in my feeling – but also, how life unfolds exactly as it should, at exactly its right timing. This solidified my faith and that the unseen is real, and that there are clocks outside our human clocks – unstrikeable, unclockable by us. I believed in destiny. And looking back at my old diaries is such a precious thing – seeing how it all came together. It’s so magical how it always comes together, it always aligns.
So I do love writing, and have always written mainly longer prose and stories. But I’ve always loved the depth of the simple things. I am realistic about the big things, and deeply romantic about the little things. I find inexhaustible romance even in the way tea is made and how the squirrels gather nuts in the garden.
I love the unnamed. I love the intimacy of silence. I love the many movements found in stillness. And I wanted to challenge myself to express a universe of feelings within with just a few words – which is what a poem often is.
I see this book as my book of mystic art. It pushed me out of my comfort to do something I’ve never done before but this was my intention. I wanted to experience myself in a different way – through poetry, in poetry – and this is how Moonhold began.
Q. Where does the title Moonhold come from?
Moonhold refers to how the waning is always held by the waxing. The book is about holding space for life and love through all of the changing phases. It is about transcending the physical into the spiritual – and it is about true intimacy and connection. Sometimes there are sad moments, sometimes there are happy moments – and we wear them on our face – but even when we cry it is still the same face we had yesterday. The book is about transformation and change of perspectives – so just like the moon, we only see one side – there is another unseen which is always there even when we can’t see it, holding us. The moon also symbolizes the divine feminine energy, the womb and the intuition – so it is about creation and birth in the midst of the dark, unseen and uncertain.
Mainly this is a book about love. And as Shakespeare said, “Love is not love which alters when alteration finds”. Love if true, withstands all – through the good and bad, we stay together side by side and support each other with care and understanding. This is the transformation towards genuine love. Genuine love is not about the fluffy stuff and neither is it about the pain or heartbreaks – it is much deeper and bigger than this.
Q. the poems are untitled and written in lower case. what was your inspiration behind that?
Words are just strings of letters. The only meaning is what we give them through our own perception and feeling. So I wanted the story to flow as a necklace of letters. No one letter is more important than the other. I didn’t want to have titles because I only wanted the attention to remain on the feeling – and not on some emphasis that I have given. I also felt it was more beautiful aestethically – and I am aestethically pleased.
In the hadron bootstrap, all particles are dynamically composed of one another in a self-consistent way. And in that way it is as if they contain one another. In Buddhism, we have a very similar notion which is applied to the whole universe. It is known as the Necklace of Indra. In the heaven of Indra was a network of precious gems – a necklace of pearls – in each pearl was the reflection of the other. In the same way – each object in our world is not merely of itself but it involves the other, and in fact is everything else. In every grain of sand is the presence of God consciousness. Everything around us comes from the same but it is manifested in a different shape and form – with its own intelligence. But we are all connected nonetheless.
So aligning my words as a necklace of letters is to reflect that in each is the other and is everything else. A string of letters hold our universe together.
Q. Why did you choose self-publishing? Do you think our society is changing regarding the publishing industry?
I wanted to keep my creative control. I wanted to choose the art, do my layout and the rhetoric design, and even this website I did by myself. I researched the publishing industry and it just didn’t align with my vision and values – so I never sent my manuscript to anyone. I want to remain free to express myself creatively and write about the topics that I want to write about – without having to compromise on the authenticity of my voice just to fit some business/sales agenda. And truthfully, I’ve just always loved making my own decisions and working independently. Having said that – going Indie is the much tougher road. There are no short cuts. It is a lot of hard, hard work and takes many diverse skills because you are basically creating and organizing absolutely everything. We should always be clear about our intentions and limitations and then decide based on that. I wanted to create something personal and exclusive of quality and meaning. I also wanted to inspire others and take a stand for artists’ rights and our abilities to create independently. Everything I do – I do with love, care and detail. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Quality is absolutely important to me. And keeping my creative control will always be my priority.
Regarding the publishing industry, just like all other industries – it is changing. We live in a time when everything established is starting to crumble. And whenever a change is near – we are faced with a lot of resistance and “reaction”. Everything is changing. We need to be adaptable. We are moving towards a time of entrepreneurship – so it is only natural to have more people pushing the traditional boundaries and taking charge. Invest in the uniqueness of your mind and craft.
Q. WHAT IS THE SYMBOLISM OF THE BOOK COVER?
The book cover features original art by Jelena Mirkovic Jankovic “Love on a Bench”. To me it portrays the complexity of human connection – the intimacy found in the movements of stillness. I see it as a framed moment which is continuously shaping. Cubism is an exploration of the inner world and this is what poetry is about as well. It is an exploration of our emotional and spiritual landscapes as we immerse ourselves deeper and deeper within like mystics – it is an inner experience, just like love and God are an inner experience. Every movement has meaning. Stillness is full of movings. And sometimes life is just a frame – a framed moment, a photograph, which has meaning to us because of the feelings we experienced within. It reminded me of those beautiful times that we share on a bench with someone we love – when it’s as if the entire world stops and it’s just the two of us sharing a deeply intimate gentle moment – in its simplicity is the most meaningful feelings of all – allowing each other to be truly seen amidst the noise of life.
Enormous things can happen in a single simple moment. Some big love stories can happen on a bench.
The two red paint drops on the spine symbolize our inter-connectedness, referencing the Necklace of Indra. It is about infinity, timelessness, completeness, intimacy and eternal love.
Q. How do you write so vulnerably, isn’t it hard to do?
It is very hard and very scary (laughs). Writing is the most vulnerable form of art and creative expression. Words are of course subjective and we only perceive them through the prism of our own eyes and unique perspectives. However, it is absolutely the most vulnerable because they are shaped into something more concrete. It takes a lot of strength and courage to express yourself in such a way. Someone is strong and brave only when they allow themselves to be truly seen – to be vulnerable. But it’s hard. If someone thinks I am some extroverted person who doesn’t feel uncomfortable when I share – they are deeply mistaken. Every time before I post my work publicly, my stomach turns. I am an introvert, a clairsentient and live a very private life. I often engineer myself into a smallness – I doubt myself and I undervalue myself just like everyone else. But this work, my writing is what I love to do and I know it makes a difference to people – this is what matters to me. I deeply admire anyone who is not just vulnerable but also responsible with their words – aware of how they affect others because words carry vibration and every day we choose whether we want to harm or inspire someone with we say. We all carry responsibility as humans. And we also shouldn’t forget that creative expression is not someone’s personal diary. Vulnerability is not easy but if we want a human connection, we need to be human – vulnerability is being human.
Q. SO TO BE COURAGEOUS IS TO BE VULNERABLE?
Absolutely. There is no courage without vulnerability. It is the ability to be completely seen – to be imperfect – it is living our life wholeheartedly. It is the willingness to do something unknowing what the end result will be. It is realizing that you will fail and you will feel pain – and yet choosing to live a life wholeheartedly. Being vulnerable means to be something uncomfortable – so it is not about the amount of sharing or exposure, it is about doing something we are absolutely uncomfortable doing, otherwise if we are comfortable it is not vulnerable, right? So this takes a lot of strength and courage to do – to be so naked and exposed. And it is scary, hard and feels dangerous. Vulnerability is the birth place of disappointment, fear, shame, blame, pain and rejection – and it is yet it is also the birth place of joy, happiness, connection, belonging, creativity, trust, intimacy and love. The problem in our society is that we numb emotions. We can’t selectively numb emotions thinking, “Oh, I want love but I don’t want pain. I want connection but I don’t want rejection.” We need to be willing to accept feeling pain because we will feel pain. But that’s life. No amount of pretending will change that. The more important question is – is it worth it? Do we truly want to connect in a deeper way with someone? Are we willing to love? If yes, then we need to live wholeheartedly and be vulnerable. We need to love with our whole heart when there is no guarantee of tomorrow, fully realizing that we’ll feel fear, disappointment and pain. Love is all there is. It really is all that matters. Very few people unfortunately truly feel it and allow themselves to experience it fully. Vulnerability is our bridge back to each other.
Vulnerability is the only way of experiencing ourselves fully in this life because this is how we allow ourselves to feel our feelings – and it is our very emotions that are the vehicle of our spiritual bodies. Spiritual experiences are about feeling, not knowing – and we can’t feel if we don’t allow ourselves to surrender. In this way, vulnerability is not just the bridge to one another, it is the bridge towards our own selves and towards connection.
Q. After you graduated with a Master of Finance, you decided to apply your integrative background in Human-Centered Design and Social Entrepreneurship assisting social startups make high impact. you completely walked away from the corporate world and devoted many years solely in humanitarian work globally, the experience of which is so impressive and humbling. Can you share some of the projects and social issues you’ve worked on?
Thank you. I do want to start by saying that charity alone doesn’t solve global humanitarian problems such as poverty, trafficking etcetera. Charity creates a cycle of interdependence and prolongs the issue. I do believe that we can relieve poverty only by social impact programs which are concentrated on development, education and skill-building. If you go to a marginalized community for example in Africa, people will tell you directly – “we don’t want your money, we want jobs.” I’ve led projects in animal conservation and illegal poaching – and the only way to deal with this is to actually create alternative sources of income for the poachers – so job creation, skill building, community development. Obviously, such initiatives are complex and require a human-centered approach involving not just in-field work of development, but also the local authorities and the international communities/governments. Billions of money are spent each year in philanthropic initiatives – but the impact is minimal. Why? Because the money isn’t spent where and how it is supposed to. This is why I am so passionate about applying Human-Centered Design in my work. It basically means we create solutions specifically for the people around their needs – and not what we think they need.
One of my biggest projects was designing the curriculum for “The Women’s Financial Empowerment Program” and I’ll be forever grateful to the program manager Sonya Shannon, who put her confidence and trust in me to complete such a big and important project. It is a 6-month holistic training program on self-development, financial literacy, leadership and entrepreneurship to create access to employment and empower women affected by gender-based violence, illiteracy and extreme poverty. The program is currently taught in Congo, Africa. Having the opportunity to design this curriculum definitely changed my life – and I got to apply everything that I had learned through my life. It was my biggest joy when I learned that women completing the program were taking the self-initiative to start their own ventures because now they had 1) the confidence and 2) the tools on how to make it actually happen. And I remember the first time I was told that one of the women talked for the first time in class despite her silence from the beginning – I was just so humbled. I did have many exercises particularly designed for women facing with trauma and abuse – and it is these stories that made the program so significant. I’d be very excited to do more projects as this because they are not just important but very, very impactful. It just works. I do have to say to everyone considering developmental programs though – it is very important to include negative externality analysis in the impact analysis of the program. The introduction of such programs should be closely monitored in terms of its effect on the rest of the people in the community.
I also used to write customized fairytales for children in hospitals and worked in education for refugee children. In terms of awareness, I’ve mainly been involved with anti-human trafficking, narcissism and abusive relationships prevention, cyber-bullying and awareness on orphanages used as trafficking channels.
I’ve also consulted many social impact ventures and aspiring social entrepreneurs on strategy and business planning. For example, animal conservation, education in prisons and dual-gender sexual abuse prevention programs.
In terms of projects, I’ve led development projects in marginalized communities across South America, Africa and Asia in the fields of artisan development, skill-building and social entrepreneurship. And also finding alternative solutions for income generation to alleviate poverty and dealing with crime.
Q. YOU MENTIONED TO ME THE CONCEPT OF “INNSAEI” BEFORE WE SAT DOWN TO TALK TODAY. CAN YOU SHARE MORE ABOUT IT?
Of course! Innsaei is the old Icelandic word for “intuition”. Well, the word itself actually has three meanings and this is what I love about words that they hold so many beautiful words inside of them. The meanings are: the sea within, to see within, and to see from the inside out. The sea within is the borderless nature of our world – a constantly moving world of vision, feelings and imagination beyond the words. To see within refers to knowing ourselves, to know ourselves well enough and to have empathy for others. Empathy is to feel into someone else’s experience and feelings, which has nothing to do with your own. All of us have the ability to be empathic but unfortunately very few develop this. In my opinion, this is one of the reasons for so much pain in this world. And to see from the inside out refers to having a strong inner compass – to become your own guide as you navigate through the external ever-changing world. Innsaei is my life. And it is expressed throughout the book as well. I am also very passionate about guiding others to self-align and discover the universe within them – so that they become their own inner compass. I tried to use different esoteric images and symbolism throughout the book to softly guide my reader to see beyond the sea.
Developing our empathy is a key component of emotional intelligence which is absolutely needed in our world. To be intuitive means that you are self-aware actually. We must always be self-aligned first because otherwise “intuition” may just be a projection due to unresolved issues, fears and early child programming. Nowadays, many people say they are “empaths” but what they associate with this term is being highly sensitive and unable to handle such powerful emotions, also as absorbed from other people around them. What is needed, regardless of our definitions and identifications, is to learn to discern what’s ours and what’s not regarding feelings and emotions. Being an empath is rare and this is not to take away from someone’s experience or feelings or self-identification – but rather to be more clear about our individual energy so that we are more aware of it and learn how to discern properly for our wellbeing. Just feeling strongly does not make someone an intuitive, psychic or an empath. Empathy however is a skill which all of us can learn. I co-hosted a podcast a while back where I discussed emotional intelligence in great detail – and this is definitely something that many people are struggling with in today’s fast-moving and digital, isolated world. Especially living in North America where everything is very corporate and goal-oriented, our soft skills are not appreciated. Vulnerability is seen as weakness and then people go home, lonely and suppressed. Our right brain is what gives us creativity, intuition, imagination, innovation, purpose, fulfillment and the ability to experience deeper, more fulfilling relationships with others. Living in the loneliness epidemic, we definitely need our right brain to feel more connected and fulfilled in life – as well as healthy. In fact we as humans cannot survive without our right brain. Strokes on the left side of the brain are far less damaging and we can continue functioning without it. Emotions are the fuel of life and our emotional body affects our mental, physical and spiritual bodies. So emotional intelligence helps us to be in tune with our emotions, understand them and handle them in a healthy way and shine a light on our unconscious emotional body. We also need to teach children on the power of the mind so that they know how to understand their emotions properly, while encouraging their intuition, empathy, imagination and creativity. We need to understand soft skills are a strength. Moving into the AI age, what would make us unique is how we are “being human”.
Q. YOU ARE ALSO A SPIRITUAL GUIDE AND TEACHER. CAN YOU SHARE A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOUR SPIRITUAL BACKGROUND AND KNOWLEDGE?
I’ve always been very spiritual since I was a child and was born with natural intuitive and psychic gifts. As a little girl I’d feel confused when others didn’t understand what I was thinking and feeling, the way I knew and felt what they were thinking and feeling, because I just assumed we were all the same. So it took time to realize that I actually had to say things and express feelings (laughs). A few years ago things “awoke” for me even more and I decided to devote to my mystical and spiritual more fully and openly. It can be quite difficult because you then need to adjust to the physical reality. Once you see, you can’t unsee and it is difficult to live in the material world and see beyond the “masks” of some people. It’s hard to explain to others unless they are also at that similar level of perception. So I basically started living a monk-like life. I’d spend all my time meditating, learning, seeking and serving others. Everything in my life became a walking meditation. It was years of simple life, which was hard because it didn’t make sense externally but internally I actually felt good as if it was all making sense even though I didn’t understand it fully; there was a lot of transformation and growth – and fulfillment. But it was hard because I just no longer resonated with many people and things. My life changed. There was a lot of de-cluttering, both externally and internally. A couple of years ago I met Sadhguru who is someone I learned so much from. This was a really important time of my life. I am grateful for him and the experience. Essentially – spiritual growth is about opening up additional dimensions of perceptions.
In term of my teachings, what I do is integrative mysticism. My background is many years of extensive studies and practice in the esoteric arts including, astrology, mysticism, philosophy, symbology and Jungian psychology. I blend psychology with mysticism. What I basically do is integrate higher wisdom and philosophies into practical applications for our daily lives and I work one on one with people who aspire to tap into their own intuition guiding them to create the life that they desire. A good spiritual guide is someone who takes you back to your heart so that you become your own creator; to re-connect to yourself and re-awaken the spiritual master beneath the shroud of your skin. I want people to be inspired and become their own inner compass. This is done through self-development and I use various methodologies which are uniquely designed for the person’s needs. My intention it to empower people and to guide them on their own unique path in life. We are all creators, not just creations. I want people to become their magicians and writers of their lives – to live a conscious life – and I give them the tools to do that. Spirituality allows us to tune into ourselves and to see the bigger purpose of our life; to self-align and zoom out. I am very excited to share all my knowledge and to be of service – and will create many tools in the fields of intuition development, self-development, empowerment, intimacy and relationships, mysticism, holistic wellbeing, emotional wellbeing, creative expression and esoteric philosophy. We are not here to “become” spiritual – we are already spiritual beings – so we are here to remember our spiritual selves and apply it towards building better, more fulfilling relationships and connections with other people. Life is about connection and love; it is about the evolution of our soul and experiencing ourselves in this physical form also. This is my main focus in my teachings.
Q. CAN YOU SHARE SOME TIPS ON HOW TO LIVE A MORE CONSCIOUS LIFE LIKE A ZEN MONK?
De-clutter your life both externally and internally. Be mindful of the people you surround yourself with. Smile and be of service to others. Connect with nature – feed the birds, the squirrels. Find pleasure in the small things of life. Do everything with focus and intention and pleasure. Listen to others open-heartedly and be humble and non-judgmental. Be kind and compassionate. Let go of obsessions and learn the power of the mind. Do everything in your life as if it’s a meditation. There are no boring tasks in life. For example, if you are cleaning – be fully present, enter your mind into the work completely and slowly, and be grateful. Be grateful that you have a space to clean and a body, which makes it capable for you to clean. Take it slowly and appreciate the steps. And allow yourself the freedom to just sit and enjoy yourself. Invest your time in learning to open your perceptions – to open up yourself to new dimensions of perceptions of life and existence.
Q. The book is fresh and unique in its interchanging between minimalist haiku style and longer free verse. At times it feels like reading a verse novel, and yet each page is of its own life. What inspired you to choose this structure?
This was a reflection of the overall theme of shapeshifting – and the exploration of vision. Sometimes life has long verses and sometimes it is just a white page meditating upon a feeling. I do love Japanese style poetry, although this is not a book of haikus. I do include a few other Japanese structures, but it is very loosely based. I meant for the book to be lyrical, and I felt that it would flow really nicely by interchanging the structures. I love writing free verse but I did want some of the pieces to be more meditative upon the few words used – and the many meanings they might have. At one point, the book really did look like a verse novel and I considered whether I should continue it that way – but then it would have been a complete change of narrative. And while some parts reminisce of the previous, each page is its own little life – its own little home. I feel that it reflects life – sometimes we just need to pause and reflect on the simplicity of things – finding their own depth of meaning. Everything shifts shapes depending on how we view it or experience it.
Q. At times it feels very philosophical and then you turn the page and it shapeshifts into something visceral. It feels like the reader is taken on an inner exploration through the different perspectives you give. What was the intention behind this?
This is about contrasts and perspectives. I love contrasting abstract with concrete and heaviness with the ethereal. I feel everything in life is a perspective. Even truth is a perspective. My truth is not your truth is not The Truth. And words are subjective too. I do actually use quite a few repetitive words or images throughout the book but I apply them in different contexts. This was my intention – to explore changes and shapeshifting. Philosophy and mysticism (or spirituality) are quite similar in the way that both are seekers of truth. A philosopher however seeks through the external and theory (logic) wanting to intellectualize the Truth, where as a mystic (or yogi) seeks the inner world to realize The Truth. It is only through realizing that we all have different perspectives and then, shift them – that we can finally grow and mature. By keeping the story interchangeable, I wanted the reader to just flow with it. I wanted my reader to experience themselves through simplicity and changeability. I find so much meaning in the simple things. And yet, within its entirety – all perspectives matter and are purposeful. It is like a romantic dance between contrasts – between light and dark, between short and long, between worlds and beliefs. But as they say, all roads lead to Rome.
Q. I found it insightful and memorable when you talked about the eucalyptus seeds and the force of fire.
Duality is one of the major themes that I explore. I particularly love the example of the eucalyptus seeds because it portrays the force of fire really beautifully. I remember seeing a documentary on the eucalyptus forest fires and it always stayed in my mind. The seeds need the fire to open and grow. And yet, fire is also destructive. The universe re-births itself out of destruction. And in chaos is fertility. Everything is life is a perspective. And what is pleasure for one, may be pain for the other in the mutual exchange. This is why good and bad are also perspectives. Nature is rich in its symbolism and there is so much wisdom and insight we can gain about our own human dynamics through animal behaviour as well as nature itself.
Life has its own pulse. But we need to stay in balance. Nothing is completely innocent or healthy. We might think eating salads is healthy but if we eat a few kilograms of salad, this is probably not the healthiest thing, right? Don’t deny yourself any pleasure but don’t indulge in it. So if you want to eat chocolate, eat some chocolate and enjoy the taste of each small bite. You don’t have to eat the entire bar to enjoy it – take pleasure slowly. Otherwise we start taking things for granted. Today was a dream you wished for in some yesterday.
Self-portrait featuring a necklace from my jewellery line, symbolizing The Necklace of Indra, philosophy of the interconnectedness of all things
Q. What is love?
A. Love is everything.
It is not confined to a definition or a list. It is what gives life meaning. It is not an emotion, even though it feels so sweetly. It is a verb because we need to treasure it, nurture it and care for it – to experience it. Love is what makes sense and why everything is happening. It is the answer to all the questions, even those we don’t know how to ask. It is the immortal face of our beloved after death. Love is what gives us meaning. Love is what matters to us most deeply. Love is why we are living and it is our sole purpose – to remember that we are spiritual beings in bodies, and not become spiritual but re-awaken our spirituality to connect better to each other. Love is what matters at the end of our life – the only thing we’ll care for then is how much we loved and how did we express it. We yearn for union and togetherness.
Everything in life is a relationship. And we are capable of loving everything when we spend time with it. Even confined to a room, we will build intimacy with that room. Love gives our experience weight and meaning. On a deep level, we are always seeking togetherness because we come from union – and so there is always that internal yearning. We come from oneness. And we will always long to connect to someone or something. Love doesn’t hurt. It is only us that hurt each other.
Love is everything.
The world moves for love. It kneels before it in awe.
Then, now, always.
Q. What is the significance of peeling cinnamon in the book?
I portray love and human connection through the image of the peeling cinnamon process in Sri Lanka. Cinnamon peeling is art. It takes years for the artistry to be learned. It takes patience. It takes skill. From generation to generation, the peeling of the bark is taught to sons and daughters. It has family values. It demands a good touch – it is direct and strong, and yet, it is soft and gentle. It’s art. Like love. Love peels us. When we’ve allowed someone completely into our life, we’ve merged with them. Vulnerability and intimacy means we have let go of boundaries and we’ve completely allowed ourselves to be seen by someone. There cannot be love without this. However, many people are scared that once completely merged, they’ll lose themselves. Here is the thing – you cannot experience love without falling into the unknown vulnerably. Love peels our layers and transforms us. But we need to possess the desire, the courage, and the devotion to be allow that to happen – to allow ourselves be peeled by love.
Love (and anything we love) makes us think we are loosing our identities sometimes but in that perceived loss is how we uncover who we are beneath the bark; when we peel the bark is when we see our naked heart.
When we allow ourselves to immerse completely in connections and be vulnerable, it will hurt when we separate. But is there any other way to love other than with everything? Even if we separate, the connection would never be a failure or a loss – they have helped us see our heart. This is what love does. Love peels layers and identities until we see our soul. Lovers meet when one has the courage the unveil their soul and the other the humility to surrender unveiling theirs too. True intimacy is reached when we unveil ourselves in our vulnerability – to show all of our layers. We never “lose” ourselves. In fact we find ourselves because of all those love peelers.
Q. With divorce statistics so high, what are your thoughts on marriage?
I do believe in marriage and family. To me personally, being a wife and a mother is of much importance in my life. However I do also believe that you should never stay in a relationship if you make each other miserable because this affects the children and also, it affects yourselves. We should however always be clear on our intentions of why we want to be in a relationship – we need to be very honest and clear about this. And we should also be realistic, knowing that it is hard work. There will always be disagreements and hardships – that’s just life. And just like life – there are phases. But – it takes two to work on the bond, not just one.
In Vedic Astrology, the purpose of marriage is seen from the ninth divisional chart known as the Navamsa. It basically dissects the 9th house of the natal chart. Now, most people might wonder why – since the 7th house is the house of marriage and partnerships, while the 9th house is the house of higher beliefs and dharma. So why the 9th house? This is very symbolic. A marriage is seen as an ashram. It is our devotion to another human being with whom we have chosen to share our life and path with. A marriage is a merging of two dharmic paths – of two souls who merge to trust and believe in each other and bring their merged path forward. It is learning and growing together. It is supporting each other. It is a temple, an ashram of higher development through the other person. As such, we need to treat it with the privacy and honour that we would as if it was our temple. We need to respect it. We need to be faithful. We need to support it and care for it. There is me, there is you and then, there is the relationship. This relationship becomes the temple which we need to garden and nurture. It becomes a devotion. But it takes two to make this happen. And we need to appreciate it. We can only love what we appreciate.
Love is not there to please us or make us happy always. It is there to grow us, shift us and transform us. It is through our relationships with others that we have the opportunity to evolve – by learning about ourselves in a deeper way. Ultimately, it is about coming back to our true selves, so if a relationship led you to yourself – know it was of love, no matter if it ended. It helped you come back one step closer to your path and yourself.
Q. What is your advice for relationships, whether romantic or family?
Gratitude and generosity. Being generous, being kind and being grateful are really important. And always hug each other, hold hands, touch! Don’t underestimate the power of a hug – a five second hug shifts the energy immediately! Laugh and make each other laugh! A couple who laughs together – stays together! And always, always tell each other how much you love and appreciate each other. Say love, say love despite the love. You can never express love enough!
Q. What is intimacy?
Intimacy requires vulnerability. It is when we allow someone to see us – truly see us. It is unveiling our soul – being truthful and completely honest about who we are. Vulnerability demands a lot of strength and courage – because we first need to see our own selves truthfully and then accept who we are. Most people just like wearing masks and are afraid to be vulnerable. The most vulnerable thing we can do is allow another to be who they are in our presence – to just give them the safe space to be who they are without criticism and judgement. It is a witnessing of the eyes. It is deep listening. Most people just hear but cannot listen. And for two lovers to meet – they must have the courage to unveil their souls. Masks cannot fall in love.
Q. While I was reading the book, I felt really connected to my feminine energy. Can you share some tips on how to increase our divine feminine?
In the future I will be preparing many interesting exercises particularly on this topic. I am very excited about that and can’t wait to share all that I know and practice. Like I say, I do not talk what I don’t walk. But especially living in our world today, I think it is really important to nurture our divine feminine.
One simple exercise is to move! Feminine energy is moving energy – the ocean, the waves, the weather are in constant motion always shifting and changing. We need to move our bodies. Dancing is amazing particularly anything that moves our belly because this stimulates the sacral chakra. You can walk in the park or do anything you like – just do what feels true for you and listen to your body’s needs. Whatever you do though – do it with feeling and connection.
Next, we need to be receptive and opened to receiving. Feminine energy is about the manifestation of the power within. Masculine energy is outward focused – it is initiative and penetrative. Feminine energy is about nurturing and openness. Many of us women have forgotten how to receive because we are so focused on caring for others – we are focused on giving. And we also live in a society which constantly takes, so we’ve forgotten how to receive – but the thing is: energy cannot be sustained without equivalent exchange. Allow yourself. Accept gifts. Accept compliments. You are worthy of them all. Just as much as we nurture others, we also need to allow ourselves to be cared for and nurtured by others. Allowing someone to care for us is a gift we give them – not just ourselves.
Indulge your senses and connect to your intuition. Learn to love and accept your body. Make everyday a ritual of love in everything that you do. Create. Make tea with love. Clean the house with love. Buy flowers and care for them. When you take a shower or a bath, make it a love ritual. And then apply lotion on the body watching each part of you and accepting it. Our bodies carry so much pressure and pain. And yet, they carry us through life. Isn’t that magical? We can only love what we appreciate. So gather all your parts and look and them and appreciate them for how they’ve helped you through your day. Allow your mind some peace and do things you enjoy. Music, writing, dancing, cooking. Do it all while being present, connected and with feeling. Nourish yourself with spending time with the people that you love. This is absolutely important.
Q. Having lived on three continents and being involved in international affairs, what do you think is the biggest issue in our world?
It’s connection. We all yearn for connection because we all came from oneness. We are all seeking togetherness whether consciously or unconsciously – this is why we have religion, gangs, categories, groups – and yet what we are actually doing is separating ourselves further. I have done projects connected to prison inmates and organized crime prevention. And everyone involved in these says one thing and one thing only – they wanted to feel connected to something; they wanted to feel appreciated by someone. In prisons there is often education available for the inmates. And what is interesting is that the majority of them spend their time and funds on classes such as life skills, spirituality (or religion) and anything possible to talk to someone face to face. As a collective, there is so much repression that we have started to overcompensate the inner emptiness by money, power, violence and control. We live in the loneliness epidemic. This is poverty of souls and hearts. We have forgotten how to connect honestly and deeply to each other. But first we need to connect to ourselves. Who are we without the house, money and friends? What is our relationship to everything around us including our plants and house?
We often talk about communication as the biggest problem in relationships but I will say it is actually comprehension. We need to learn to truly listen. So many people just talk for the sake of hearing themselves speak or validate themselves. We need to listen deeply to another person and understand them.
Another problem is being seen. We all want to be seen and recognized. There was a beautiful project created by a man who photographed a homeless community and then gave them a photo album to share their memories. One of the women said, “all these photos means something. To just know we are seen and not forgotten.” We all exist. We all matter. Sometimes just looking into someone’s eyes is enough.
The main cause for human suffering is the illusion of separation from unconditional love. It’s just an illusion. We are not separated from it. We are not separated from each other. We never were and we never will be. We just sometimes forget because we are dropped into little teacups from the greater teapot.
But we are still tea.
It’s just the outer layer of the cup that seemingly “separates us”. So I am here to remind you – you are your love, and your love is you. I am here to remind you that you are not, never were, and never will be separate from unconditional love. And if you chose to tune into your heart – you’ll know and remember that it is true.
Q. How can we connect better to have more fulfilling relationships?
We are capable of connecting to anything as long as we spend time with it – and appreciate it. We can only love what we appreciate. I wrote an article The Art of Loving which is specifically about building deeper connection in our relationships.
Q. What are your thoughts on reincarnation and soulmates?
Consciousness continues beyond our physical reality. So yes, I do believe in reincarnation as much as I believe that I am alive right now. Being alive and reincarnated is sacred. There are far more disincarnated (spirits) than there are incarnated. The universe put in so much effort to create this vessel which is your body, to experience itself in this life and there is a reason for that. Why would the universe expand itself and its energy to create a body? Each cell has its consciousness. Your body is your perfect vessel for your specific vibration – so we need to learn to accept and love the natural state of our bodies also. Trust me – your body and every single cell is just as it is supposed to be – it is made specifically for you and for what you were meant to do. Respect your life because there is a reason you were born. Be grateful and remind yourself that you are needed and that life truly is special. It doesn’t matter whether you know what it is or not – you are purposeful and you are enough just being. We live in a society which gains when we are out of balance – so it is almost like when things are good we become suspicious or we feel guilty if we are just “being” content. We need to zoom out from the social conditioning. Contentment is a very important word – it means being comfortable and happy with just being in the moment. You don’t have to do anything. Just be content in that moment before running to the next thing of imbalance. Allow yourself to be happy.
In terms of “lives” – there is only one life. It just spreads over and pours into different manifestations – bodies and human forms – so that we experience ourselves as we need to. But it is just a continuation in a way. As I say love reincarnates as love. Imagine tea – now pour a little tea into a teacup, it is still tea but in a teacup. Now, pour it into a juice glass – still tea but experiencing itself through the skin of a juice glass. So you are still you – but choosing to experience yourself in different ways. Why would we reincarnate? It is only in human (tangible) form that we can change our vibration – our mind is a tool, which we use to develop higher – so this is why we reincarnate. But make no mistake – we are spiritual beings, and we are not our mind – it is just a tool, a very powerful tool. This life is very short – it is a very short time for us to evolve higher, so that we raise our vibration before we go into pure energy again. This is my interpretation – based on what I’ve learned.
Regarding soulmates, ah that’s an interesting topic! Across social media I’ve noticed the concept that we have many soulmates – and in parts, that’s true – we may have many soulmates and for various reasons. The connections are always felt really deeply and destined – as if we are just picking up from where we started. It is known and it feels like home. We also have karmic partners, energetic bonds etcetera.
But – contrary to popular beliefs and social media memes, a romantic soulmate, someone who is truly a part of you, your destined eternal beloved – that’s actually really rare to meet. In old mystical texts, it says that it is so rare, that most people will not meet that person in their life. The reason for that is because the love is so overwhelming and ecstatic that the two lovers forget about all else in their life. The love is truly out of this world, it is telepathic, it is deeply emotionally and spiritually connected, it is the church within you – it is continuous passion and desires, while also peace and serenity at just the thought of them. There’s no drama, there’s no bs. And it is unbreakable because it is ever running in your stream of consciousness, from a time before time beyond time. To meet that destined eternal lover you need to really be at a certain level of consciousness and understanding of self, because these are high energies. To sustain a relationship with anyone in life, you both need to be on an energetic match. And you can only meet another as deeply as you’ve met yourself. That’s not to say that you will not experience a great deep love in your life without that person – of course you will. In your mind and heart, it’d feel amazing as if that’s the one for you – your perfect match. And it is what you need and want at that time of your life and soul’s evolution.
So what I want to say is this – we need to understand that all people are purposeful in our life. Do not worry so much about the definition “soulmate” – it is about the experience. If it brings you back to yourself and your true path – it was of love and it was meant to be. This is the purpose of relationships. And every relationship has its own specific purpose too. For some of us it is to have a baby with that person, for others it is to build something of service together or to help them heal themselves with our energy. And yet for others, it is to wake them up and force them to face themselves and own up to their uncomfortable truths. The point is that we need to be grateful for every person with whom we cross paths with. We should never romanticize spiritual concepts – especially if it is to perpetuate some toxic behaviour or feed some insecurity or delusion. Some people just want someone else to validate their existence because they are not fulfilled on the inside. This is where misunderstood concepts can become dangerous. Be careful what ideas you feed yourself with to distract yourself from yourself.
Sometimes we meet a soulmate with whom we’ve had a soul contract to be together romantically – but this is a free will universe. And both need to say “yes” on soul level again. Otherwise, it won’t take roots. This can bring sadness because we do feel so deeply that it was supposed to be. It’s like being left standing at the train station. Someone was supposed to get off that train because you had an appointment – but they just didn’t show up. The reasons for that are many. Soulmates usually come for a specific soul lesson and experience to share together. But don’t worry because you will never be denied your experience. Another one will come to help you along your path with whom you will share that experience. I do believe wholeheartedly – there is an invisible kingdom guiding us along the way and that the universe has our back. Just allow life to happen. We all have our own paths and sometimes we just need to allow everyone else, as well as ourselves, to go through what we need to go through. Having said that, I will also say that past lives relationships can be really difficult to deal with. There are often heavy residues from what you have experienced together (including trauma) and can be extremely difficult to detach and let go of such connections energetically.
Love comes in many different ways. So never worry about that. It always finds a way. Do not burden yourself with how and why and who – just be present, opened and know who you are and what you truly want. Who is meant to stay in your life will stay. I can’t even begin to tell you how I’ve met the most significant people in my life out of thin air. I can’t even explain to you how whoever was meant to find me always found me even in a different country – even when I did not want to and did everything possible to hide. Understand that as rivers flow to sea, what is will always be. It belongs to you – it is yours to be experienced only by you. And whoever doesn’t stay in your life – just let them go peacefully and gracefully. Do not hold on to people who are not good to you and always walk away from toxicity. Be grateful no matter what happened – it was purposeful and needed, but walk away. Separation is an illusion anyway. You are always connected to “the one” you love no matter where they are. And the one you love will not harm you – of course we’ll have disagreements and it won’t be easy, but they will not harm you. So don’t ever use spirituality as a way to perpetuate your illusions or toxic behaviors. So. Take refuge in the quiet corner of your heart and know, deeply know, that like rivers flow to sea, what is will always be. True love always finds it way. Even when you are strategically hiding from it. When you need it and it needs you to experience itself – it will find you.
Having said all that – don’t believe anything that I am saying about past lives and soulmates etcetera. I don’t want people to focus on that. We can often be incapable of dealing with all of the emotional entanglement that memories of “past lives” would bring. I want people to focus on their current life – on now. Focus on your now. Question life and experience it for yourself – open up yourself to new perceptions and realize your own truths whatever they may be. Be curious about life.
Q. So is our destiny predetermined?
I don’t believe it is fully predetermined. This is a free will universe so it is up to us to take control of our experience of life and be creators – not just creations. We have all the answers we seek. We just need to learn to listen to ourselves and discern what’s intuition versus projections based on conditioning and fears. This is why I am so passionate about guiding people to learn to become their own inner compass; to re-awaken the spiritual master that they are beneath their skin. Most people do not spend time focusing on their spiritual development. It takes years and very serious work; it takes devotion. However, once you start raising your vibration to a higher level, then you automatically are capable of changing your path and making other choices. Otherwise, you will keep on doing what you are doing. The script will remain the same – just the actors will change. In India, once you go to an astrologer or psychic, the minute you say that you are on a spiritual path – they tell you to leave because once you become a creator, your path can no longer be predicted as a snapshot. Because you have now become a creator, not just a creation. Develop yourself, raise your vibration and the experience of your reality will shift. Bad things will always happen – that’s just life – but our experience of it will be changed. It is our responsibility to be the best version of ourselves. Let people do what they want – we can only control ourselves and we can only change ourselves.
Become your own fairy and give yourself your wishes. Don’t deny yourself happiness. Allow yourself the freedom to dream and imagine and then make your dreams reality. Don’t deny yourself the right to have desires. Acknowledge your desires and take charge of your destiny!
Q. In a world where everyone is looking for their purpose, what is your guidance on how to find it?
Sometimes we get so focused on what it is, that we forget we are already living it – we are living life. I belief that our “purpose” can re-shape along our life, it is not as absolute as people may want it to be. It is something that unfolds through the years and expresses itself differently during different cycles of our life. And I believe that it is more about how our authenticity contributes to others, like a particular part of our energy, rather than a particular job or work. I have a line from one of my poems: “Today God is an iceberg. Its holiness unfolds through the years.”
But generally, I believe that our main human purpose is to be a kind, compassionate person and to be of service to others. We need to allow ourselves to experience joy and express our love to others – and to contribute to others with our joy and love, and service. And if not – at least not to harm others. We must inspire to be the best version of ourselves. At the end of the road, all that would matter anyway is how much we loved and how we expressed it. Every little thing in life matters and has its own purpose. You just being present is purposeful and needed – your presence matters. Is a lawyer leading a less purposeful life than a nurse? It is all about how we are living, and not our job title. If the lawyer is helping those around him/her than it is purposeful. A house wife is living an incredible purpose – she takes care of the home, the family – what bigger purpose could there be than her care and love?
And sometimes just a smile is all the purpose you have to contribute to something life changing. Never underestimate the power and purpose of a smile and a kind word. You standing on the sidewalk and smiling at someone matters. You smiling at your family matters. Just being a kind person is all you should focus on. So don’t bother yourself with what you are doing – focus on how and who you are while you are doing it – and how it is affecting others around you and how you are contributing to this world. The kindness of your heart is your biggest contribution. In order to find our dharma (or purpose), we need to first be clear about who we truly are. Once we know ourselves, the rest will unfold as long as follow the higher values of life and true heart’s intentions.
Q. What was the biggest challenge in the book writing process?
My biggest challenge was building my website (laughs). I literally had to google “how do I build a website” and learn along the way. I also did put in a lot of work into my research on distribution channels, the publishing industry etcetera. I found that writing the book itself was a very small percentage of the overall process. It really is giving birth to something and then doing the parenting. Editing was the hardest part. You have to give yourself time in between, otherwise it’d be hard to edit because you are still too emotionally attached to it. Where we begin is not where we’ll end and will not be what we planned – but there is beauty in that. It’s a process. Patience and dedication are key, as is flexibility. Everything I do – I do with love and care. It is a nurturing. And there are many decisions along the way – so you need to feel comfortable making decisions and taking charge of your work.
Q. Any advice for young writers?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Tomorrow you will know new things and you might go back and think you could have done it better today. But tomorrow is not today. Make mistakes bravely! Life is about living not just existing. We just need to go into the unknown. I always think of the example of how paper is made of clouds and rain. Sometimes it might be really foggy and cloudy – but don’t be discouraged. Know your intentions and limitations. Know why you are writing a book – what do you want out of it? Know your limitations of your skills and budget – and also do you research.
There is profound beauty in the everyday, in the simplicity, the ordinary, the imperfect and the incomplete. You don’t need an extraordinary thing to happen to write about it. There are no poor experiences. Every moment in life hides lushness. Don’t blame these seemingly empty moments and don’t discourage yourself because they too are needed. Like decay. Cup the decay into your soft palms. Look at it. It too is needed. Your job as a writer is to find the hidden beauties in the poor moments and unveil their richness.
For the true creative – there is never poverty. They can find beauty in everything. Dependency kills creativity. Solitude is needed – it will unhide your voice. Be patient with the process. The most intuitive people are the most patient – because they understand there is a natural cycle unfolding behind the scenes. And remember – our voice is powerful. It carries vibration. Everyday we make a decision whether to use it for harm or for love. Everyday we are making a change with something as simple as speaking with the words we choose to use.
And make sure you sleep. Sleep, sleep, and sleep some more! It is a much-needed creative aphrodisiac! Daydream and yes, get bored and yes, procrastinate, and yes, even don’t do anything at all – there is creative purpose to all of these! Allow it all to happen! Nothing is not as it should.
Q. Finally, could you share with us what you are working on next?
I am currently working on the Art of Love, which is coming soon through my website. It is dedicated to inspiring an environment of emotional wellbeing and deepening the human connection in our world, so that we lead more fulfilling lives. Content will include topics on love, relationships, holistic wellbeing, esoteric philosophy, empowerment, feminine energy alignment, intimacy and teachings of love.
I am also working on some more humanitarian projects and on a new book. But I am definitely giving myself some relaxation time first – to breathe in and enjoy the launch of my moonhold.
Interview taken: June 2019.