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NL: Hi everyone! My name is Natalie Ledwell and this is the Inspiration Show. Today on the show I have a very special guest that’s talking about her new book, which is called “A Fierce Heart: Finding Courage, Strength and Wisdom in Any Moment.” Now, before we get into talking about the book and I introduce my special guest, I just want to remind you that when the show is over, don’t forget to click the link below this video if you’re watching this live on Facebook or on our YouTube channel so you can take my 30-second quiz so we can figure out what is holding you back from success. So please help me welcome my special guest Spring Washam. How are you, Spring?
SW: Great. I’m so happy to be here with you.
NL: I’m very happy to have you here. I know that you’re traveling and you’re in a hotel room and we’re, you know, we’re doing everything and sort of, you know, on the fly but I’m really excited to be talking about this new book that you’ve released because it seems like a timely message, especially going into the holidays and all the added stress that we put on to each other that this is really a great message for that. But before we get into that, okay, can we just get a little bit about your background and your story and maybe the story behind your name because it’s very interesting.
SW: Yeah. People ask me all the time. Is that your real name? That’s my real name. I saw my birth certificate, and my mother, that was her favorite time of year, so she just loved the name and yeah, it’s grown on me.
NL: Yeah. Awesome. So tell us a little bit about your background or what it is that you do?
SW: Well, I’m a meditation and Dharma teacher in Oakland, California. So that’s where I’m based and I’ve been teaching for many years. I teach retreats, I teach classes, workshops. I travel. I teach in South America. So I guess that would be my main role as a teacher and also kind of working as a healer in different aspects of sort - wellness, health happiness, ending our suffering. I guess that’s my business, if you could say.
NL: Yeah. I love that. I noticed what, in your bio, that you wrote, so you’re a Buddhist. So explain a little bit about that religion and what that means to you and how that helps you show up in the world in a certain way.
SW: Yeah. That’s a great question. Because I meet people from all over and I guess one thing I would say for sure about Buddhism is it’s really more of a philosophy. It’s sort of what intrigued me about it is when I was really young. I was introduced to it and I ended up at a Buddhist retreat by accident. I was meditating on my own and was not doing a good job. I would sit for hours just obsessing on my problem. So it dawned on me I need a teacher. So I heard about this 10-daty retreat in the desert and I was really needing something. I was kind of falling apart. I showed up at this retreat and it just happened to be a Buddhist teacher there that I connected with in the community. And what I liked about the teachings, it was focused on ending – suffering - and it was working with my mind. It was doing a lot of mind training, stillness and I really knew that that’s what I needed, so I got really interested in the philosophy. I got interested in that way of life at the present, awareness, developing compassion. And it just appealed to me. So you don’t have to be a Buddhist to read my book. It just kind of is rooted in that philosophy and I always tell people in my community to see the Buddha as the psychiatrist. You know, follow your own tradition, which is, if this can be helpful for your mind, great.
NL: Right. So tell me a little bit about “A Fierce Heart,” like, what was the motivation behind writing the book.
SW: Well funny enough, then the publishers approached me and I was sort of a reluctant writer but they really encouraged me, and I think a lot of the idea was to create a book that was more contemporary, more relatable, to where we are right now. Sometimes these spiritual books are so lofty, so out there they’re not, you know, I was looking for something that was suitable for urban communities people, younger people, people on the front lines. People of all walks of life. So the book first was kind of designed to that - to have a different kind of feel to it. And I think we accomplished that. And then it was really to tell stories. So I use, for own life stories, about people overcoming difficulties and following a spiritual path, opening the heart. So it’s like woven, all kinds of stories and art from around the world and imagery. And it’s meant to be just inspirational, inspiration, you know, for the reader.
NL: Absolutely. Because you know I think at the moment, especially here in the US, I think a lot of people are trying to build up a bit of a wall because there’s so many atrocious things happening, and you know, the mass shootings and everything, that I feel like we’re starting to lose touch. Our compassion is starting to wither because it’s like we have to kind of put this wall up. What do you recommend for people who find that that’s the road that they’re on at the moment?
SW: Yeah, this is a common one. I work in Oakland, California with around a lot of activists, people involved in social justice, social action, and I think the really the big key thing here is self-compassion because that’s what I find that people can give - a lot of compassion to others, our family, their friends, they go out and none for themselves. So I really teach the path of self-compassion, so it’s not complete unless it includes you. So at times like these, we really need a lot of self-compassion and with so much coming at us we do need to find that stillness. I mean, we’ve got to find a time in our day to unplug from the insanity of what’s being on the media, what’s being shared in all of our devices and we just get so disconnected, as you said at the beginning.
NL: Yeah. So tell me a little bit about the subheading of the book, it’s “Finding Courage and Strength in the Moment”, how do we do that?
SW: Yeah, that’s like a really great question and I think what we do is finding that stillness. So when people come to meditation retreats they sit down on the cushion, their minds are insane, right. Everything, anxiety, past, future, we may live in these stories and they’re all nightmares and we just tell them over and over. And so part of learning to find strength, courage and wisdom is the ability to be able to become more still with yourself. To learn how to work with our emotion. To learn how to feel our body again. I mean, part of the disconnection is that we disassociate, we don’t want to live in our body, we don’t want to live in this moment. Get me out of here, that’s mostly what our spiritual lives, we hope for. Can I get to another dimension, another place? So the fierceness is about, “No it’s right here, it’s right now, it’s amidst all the insanity, can I be present with myself, can I feel my heart.” And so the entry point is just finding a practice that allows you to be still everyday, whether it’s yoga, meditation, maybe it’s taking a walk with your dog and maybe something has to be where you stop and you just start with feeling your breath flowing down. And we can start to hear ourselves. We are not able to hear what’s happening in our own heart. So just that.
NL: Absolutely. And I suppose by doing that practice as well, we start to get more in tune with our bodies as well.
SW: Absolutely. I mean we live outside of our body and our heart. I mean, for mind people your heart is deeply in your body so if you live just in the head, you’re missing a huge aspect of our humanness and also our happiness. [inaudible words]
NL: I know, so how much, like, is that practice that you’re recommending. Like is it, like, hours? Like what does it look like, like how much time would it take?
SW: Well, like with every practice it starts for a few moments, you want to, you know, I tell people when they’re beginning if they want to find some kind of stillness practice, they start with 10 to 15 minutes a day. You don’t have to start with two hours in the morning, two hours at night, it’s not gonna happen. You know, our lives are so busy. So to just start in the morning or in the evening, mornings are great and you just begin by just starting to feel your body, feel your breath, turn, it’s like press the pause button because oftentimes I notice that we feel like victims. Well we have power. The one thing we do have power over is where we put our attention and I just like to remind people of that. That, you know, this is the practice of remembering, of listening, of flowing down. Yeah. But starting off realistic is great.
NL: Yeah and building from there. And it sounds like you’ve got a whole bunch of different suggestions or activities that people can do too. Because you know, you’re right. Like we have a lot of spiritual books out there that have these very esoteric concepts in them, but it’s like, yeah, but how does it apply to my life, like, you know? How does that change who I am or how I show up or how I deal with all the stuff that’s going on? Like, you know, grief is another, you know, big thing as well. Like you know, how do we move through grief in a way that’s empowering for us?
SW: Well, I think that’s why I wrote this book because I had that same issue and people who are living their lives, and they have maybe three kids and stuff going on, they need something relatable like, how do I deal with the grief? How do I deal with my stress? Give me something practical. Give me some real advice. And so I think it’s, in many ways, with grief and all of our difficult emotions. You know, we don’t want to feed them. We don’t want to repress them. What we want to do is how to be mindful of them. It’s like a new pathway that’s being developed and that takes training to be able to sit and feel your body and allow the grief to unwind itself. So for me, working with intense emotions like grief and rage, rage is a big one. Fear, so many people contact me with anxiety that feels out of control. I teach them how to just begin to gently feel their body. The emotions are really held in the body and so we slowly start to learn step by step, how to kind of let them go. How to feel them and move through them.
NL: Yeah. So I know that you mentioned that there’s a few stories in the book, is there one that sort of stands out with for you that you can share with us?
SW: Let’s see. Well there’s a lot of really great stories in the book. One that stands out for me is I once worked with this woman who was in the military in Israel, and in the Israeli army, and she did a two-year period and then after that she had so much trauma, she just left, moved to New York and never looked back. She just kind of shut the door on all of that. But as we know, all of those emotions and experiences, they had to go somewhere, but she thought it really getting into things that were harmful to herself, self-mutilation, all these things and she was hiding it. She was quite accomplished on the outside, looked really beautiful, elegant and smart but internally her world was actually very violent. And she started to come on meditation retreats and we really worked through that and she learned how to work with those energies. And a lot of what people are working with is this kind of trauma, so I talked a lot about trauma in the book and overcoming trauma, how to work through it. All of our emotions are effects of somethings. There’s cause to it and that’s also what I liked about the Buddhist tradition, it was very cause and effect, this relates to this. So when you work on this, this kind of dissolves. I appreciated that, you know. There’s a logic to it and so there’s stories like that. That story stands out because it was such a beautiful one and it was a process. This is not an overnight thing. We’re talking about making real lifestyle changes and that involves shifting our consciousness and that always takes time. You know, not an overnight fix but slowly, drop by drop, you know, the bucket gets filled.
NL: Absolutely. And you know I read somewhere recently that we are all suffering to some degree of PTSD, because you know living in the world right now, there are so many atrocious, outrageous things happening that, you know, having a practice where we can center ourselves, where we can get back to calm, where we can be in contact with ourself, we had the connection of our mind and body, and be inside there and really be able to clear our energy of all the negative stuff around us, that’s when we get to, you know, live a life of freedom, like freedom of choice, freedom from emotional anxiety and where we actually can really live in a place of happiness and joy. So I really commend you for writing the book, Spring. It’s going to be such an incredible how-to guide for a lot of people. So where can we send people to get their hands on the book or to connect with you?SW: Yeah. Well the book is available everywhere. They can go on Amazon online, any bookstore, it’s there. They can contact me through my website which is www.springwasham.com
NL: Awesome. Well guys, the banner to the side or click the link underneath the video here to go straight through Spring’s website from there. And I want to thank you for your time today, Spring. It’s been such a pleasure chatting to you.
SW: Thank you for having me, it’s a beautiful show.
NL: Wonderful. So guys, I encourage you to share this video. Let’s get the word out and we can do that by clicking the Facebook and the Twitter share buttons on this page. And don’t forget after the show is over to click that link and take my little 30-second quiz so we can figure out what’s holding you back. So until next time, remember to live large, choose courageously and love without limits. We’ll see you soon.