I’m not so into bands or musicians, I don’t go to concerts. I’m not a loyalist to any specific brand. Nor food. But, if I could be a Band-Aid for Guru Jagat I would follow her just about any where. I first discovered her through a co-worker who had done one of her meditations for 40 days in a row and declared that her life had changed dramatically as a result. Then, a few months later, pregnant and unable to do much physical activity, I looked her up on Youtube. I started doing her meditations to move and feel relief from my omnipresent anxiety. And it worked. I love her voice, her energy, her straight forward and real vibe. Guru Jagat some how manages to be both enlightened and approachable, the ultimate high-low.
When I got invited to a meditation with her at her Kundalini studio in New York City, I cleared my schedule. My baby was new and I only had a few minutes, but I had to meet her. Upon entering, she declared into her microphone, “Bring the baby to the stage” Isabella relaxed in her arms, and I told Guru Jagat what a big influence she had on my pregnancy. I wanted to talk more but Isabella needed her nap, so a few days later we jumped on the phone. We focused our conversations on Yogic beauty secrets inspired by her book, Invincible Living, but all the nuggets are so good.
Laney: The Moment is all about redefining beauty. I used to work at a big corporate beauty brand and no one was talking about the real definition of beauty and what they were putting out into the world was toxic on every level. The Moment was born out of that desire to talk about beauty in a way that is kind and addresses all the different layers of beauty, beginning with what happens internally. I’m a huge fan of you and RA MA, and I felt like there was so much that happened internally when I was practicing while I was pregnant.
Guru Jagat: I’d love to talk about the beauty and wellness industries. We want to create images and conversations in the beauty and wellness industry that are about the real pressures of beauty and even the pressures of wellness and what that looks like as a woman, entrepreneur, and a mom.
L: I would love to talk about that pressures because I think everyone is feeling that right now, and I know I am especially as a new mom. The pressure is really intense.
GJ: It is. I think it’s a toxic side of wellness. It’s masking it in protection. Just like all the images are becoming this standard fair in the wellness industry. We haven’t launched it yet, but I have a whole global campaign that we’re launching this year that’s about imperfection and richness and realness. We want to take the wellness industry by storm in what I believe is this almost anorexic, almost anemic aesthetic that’s come in to the wellness industry. It’s been transformed from the fashion industry.
L: It’s almost ironic because it’s so the opposite of what the wellness industry is supposed to be about. How do you recenter yourself when you feel those pressures?
GJ: I think this whole time on the planet is about how much sovereignty we can create and the basis of that sovereignty is the basis of our connection to our breathe. When you’re connected to your own breathe, is when you’re connected to your own rhythm. You’re connected to the most natural rhythm that ever will be- the rhythm of your breathe and your heartbeat, at least in the physical form. From there, it gives you more validity in your own being-ness and your body and mind. The comings and goings of fads and emotions and moods and challenges and ups and downs of life become much less imperative. You ask yourself, is this really worth me getting upset about? Do I have the energy to get upset about this particular thing? I ask myself that a lot. I could get upset about this… but do I have the time? Does it even matter?
I saw a post on social media and it said “God give me the wisdom to remember that I don’t care about the things that I don’t care about,” which I think was hilarious. I’m huge on the sense of humor. The more you can laugh at yourself, the less serious you become, and the more spiritual you become. I think you can become so much more in your own spirit by taking things a little bit lighter because it’s ultimately all very funny.
L: That’s one of my favorite things to remind myself of because I can get very serious. After college I moved to India and lived with a monk at an orphanage and he was always laughing and I asked him how he could always be laughing when we were surrounded by poverty. He said, ‘Laughter is light and we’re meant to be beacons of light.’ That is something I remind myself of all the time because I tend to go towards the glass is half empty.
GJ: You and everyone else. The culture and the seriousnesses and the news, there are a lot of ways in which we are addicted to negativity so it can be easy to get tucked in to that. When you have some sort of sovereignty over your own breathe and your own thoughts, you can decide to save your anger for the things that are really important. That’s the thesis of how I deal with my energy budget. We only have X amount of energy and X amount of time so we really do have to decide what we want to do with it. Most people fumble through life expending energy on things that don’t matter. It ends up depleting them and then we have all these mental and physical and emotional diseases.
L: Speaking of which, I spend a lot of energy on social media and feeling down about things because of something I’ve seen on social media. What are your thoughts on it?
GJ: Again in the energy budget conversation, you have to make decisions. If something is going to bother you enough to get you upset, then maybe I should have the discipline not to go there. You have to have the sovereignty of mind to decide whether this is real and worth your energy and that’s an adult decision. If something’s really bothering you, maybe you should decide to unfollow those people instead of feeding your own toxic behavior of comparing or contrasting. Those are in many ways your own self sabotage because it’s a waste of your own energy. It’s not bothering the other person.
L: I’d love to talk about these yogic beauty secrets. Specifically about beauty and Kundalini. Your book talked about aging in a way that makes us think about dying.
GJ: I think ultimately aging is the reminder that the body is finite so it’s very uncomfortable for us. Particularly for women because in this last time on the planet, women over a certain age have been disregarded in terms of being important to society and culture. Women over a child bearing age have been really disregarded in the past 2000 years. That’s not the way it always was. It’s a culture gone astray. Women of wisdom are not regarded as the most important part of the society, the woman who holds the wisdom of birthing children and all of the wisdom that a woman of a certain age holds. I think there’s a lot involved in the aging conversation and the fear of all of it. There aren’t a lot of role models (particularly in America) of what it would look like to be generously in our aging process and the stance of finite form and what that all looks like. I think some of the deepest spiritual work is to face our own deaths and face the finite quality of the physical body. Of course we’re running away from it and spending so much time and effort and money to not actually just face the fact that being in the body is an ephemeral experience. And a joyful experience. Most of us spend most of the time in the body not enjoying it and not appreciating it. I think it’s some of the deepest work that you can do, explore your own finite quality in an infinite way. I think yoga and meditation is one of the ways of doing that.
L: Why do we spend so much of our life in pain? Why do we naturally go that way?
GJ: I think it comes back to self importance. If we are only focusing on ourselves, it becomes unbearable because we aren’t meant to only focus on ourselves. We need to be in a much more community and service oriented system. The more we focus on ourselves, the more misery and the more pain that is cultivated. Almost everyone across the board who has found happiness has found it through service. I think self importance is the greatest suffering. Thoughts of aging and the compulsivity of acknowledging a new wrinkle drives suffering.
Everyone wants to look good. That’s not a problem. I’m in to that and being vital at whatever age or chronology or cycle you’re at, it’s so nice to feel your own vitality and that’s where I’d like to take the aging process. Do you feel vital? Do you feel embodied and empowered? This is real beauty.
L: Going back to breathe, is that the way to feel vitality? Through breathe?
GJ: I think there are a lot of ways but ultimately it’s finding ways to optimize your system so you can feel your own inherent vitality. The system is inherently vital. When the system is given the right indications and input, the system will become more vital. That’s the breathe work and the movement. The meditation and the sound sciences and the sciences of the mantra. It’s giving your system nutrition that makes it go on a more positive flow than what our lowest common denominator is.
L: Nutrition is obviously a big part of it… in your book you talk about addiction to sugar. Do you not eat any sugar?
GJ: It’s not that I don’t eat sugar, but I do think it’s an addictive substance in terms of the way that it breaks down in the body and the way that sugar is one molecule away from methamphetamines. It’s certainly addictive. It’s not that I don’t partake, I’m just careful. I try to be conscious of how and why and not doing it to cover anything up but doing it to enjoy. Having dessert with friends at a nice dinner. It enhances life. Not doing something at all creates tension around it. I know people who are sugar free and they are more obsessed with sugar than I am. I just don’t eat it very much.
I think it’s funny the people who are obsessed with sugar-free or gluten-free. It’s all they think about. It’s funny that reverse psychology. I try not to eat very much gluten or sugar because I operate better if I don’t. I definitely operate better on European wheat strains than American wheat strains. I’ll usually eat more gluten in Europe or when I’m traveling than I do in American but I’m not obsessed with it. I feel that a lot of these wellness types are obsessed with food in a certain way and I honestly think that that’s indicative of deeper issues with food that the wellness industry is covering up.
I’ll be bold and say that. Energetically I see a lot of disordered eating expressed through these wellness nutrition modalities, but underneath it is a lot of fear of food and fear of different things. It’s all pretty pictured in to an instagram post. I think the more natural you are, and the more you breathe and chew and enjoy and slow down around food, it have less to do with what you’re eating and how you behave around food.
L: We explore that a lot. We talk about beauty food and what it does for us internally but also how it makes us feel. I know exactly what you’re talking about and that’s one of the things that freaks me out about social media. People talking about food and how they don’t eat certain things.
GJ: I think there’s a lot of that happening. A lot of people who have gotten in to the eating thing. There is hardly anyone I know that isn’t doing that. I’m a vegetarian, I don’t think eating meat is where it’s at, especially with what’s going on geo-politically. There’s so much that you can waste a life time in this food conversation and food sensitivity. People are obsessed. The people I’ve met that are the most obsessed with food are often the least healthy.
L: What a sad thing to waste your life on when it’s really so enjoyable. I was journaling after I gave birth and I was so incredibly stressed out about my weight because I got on the scale and it was a number I’d never seen before. I was writing about it and I realized I’d been writing about my weight for 20 years. I’m just not going to waste any more time on this. I can’t be journaling about my weight when I have a daughter. Let’s forget it. It does become bigger when you have a kid, especially when you have a daughter. I want her to learn that all that matters is what makes you feel good and caring about your body but showing balance.
Special thanks to Guru Jagat!
Photos via RA MA Institute