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Bliss and Grit

Long time friends Vanessa Scotto and Brooke Thomas are having conversations about being spiritual practitioners in the modern world. How do you find sacredness in today's materialistic society? Is there a place for psychology in the realm of spirituality? Can embodied meditation lead to greater evolution? How do we ultimately embrace more aliveness- all the beauty and crazy, the joys and messes, the bliss and the grit that is a human life? Join us as we feel our way through the path by integrating somatic practices, psychology, spirituality, and transformation through meditation.
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Bliss and Grit
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Jul 17, 2018

We are 89 episodes in, and almost at our 2 year Bliss + Grit anniversary! So in this week’s episode we’re speaking about what it’s been like for us to do B+G over the last couple of years. From following our own mysterious divine calling, to running a business by trusting life and listening to messages, to reframing leadership to a vision of healing in public, we’re chatting about the inspirations we’ve gathered and lessons we’ve learned throughout our time on the show. We couldn’t have done it without you and we’re oh so grateful.

We will be taking off for the rest of the summer to refresh and recalibrate. But we’ll be back in September with some next level goodness.

One other note, our audio quality may be a little off from usual. We had some technical difficulties that we will straighten out over the break but we thought it was worth delivering.

Jul 10, 2018

Today we’re talking about the power of words- how we are shaped by the words we hear and how we shape our worlds with the words we use. in particular we are looking at how we shape people’s view of who we are with the words we unconsciously use about ourselves. Yet when we head into this territory, frequently teachings crop up, particularly in popular culture, about how we need to edit and suppress ourselves, or pretend to be something other than what we feel. We explore shame, blame, and superstition-free inquiries around how we can shift the words we use to describe ourselves and the world we live in.

Jul 3, 2018

This week we’re discussing turning towards the ache. We can often either resist the situations that trigger us. Or once we get triggered we can collapse into patterns of shame or blame. What if we instead met our triggers with an attitude of curiosity? What if we leaned into what we were afraid of as an opportunity to grow past the fear? In this conversation we are sharing our recent personal experiences of embracing the attitude of empowerment and moving towards what scares us.

Jun 26, 2018

Today we are joined by teacher Kiran Trace, who we have both mentored with and who we have had on the show in the past. With the recent suicides of celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, there is a lot of conversation around what causes someone to commit suicide, as well as concerns that when very public figures take their own lives, there can be a contagion effect.

All three of us have had our own experiences with suicidality in our lives, and so with this issue so front and center culturally we decided to have a conversation about it to see if we could de-shame the topic and help anyone out there who struggles with suicidal ideation to feel not so alone, and to have some ways to navigate out of the pattern of not wanting to be alive.

When we’re taking on something so complex and heartbreaking, it’s important to say that this is us speaking about our experiences and perspectives with suicide. We are not in any way attempting to downplay the important contributions of the mental health field in this realm, and so in addition to listening to us speak here, if you are coping with thoughts of suicide, it is helpful and even critical to get support.

Jun 19, 2018

After a recent request from a listener to share some more details about how we are connecting the dots between all of the amazing teachers we’ve had on the show, we’re doing an integration episode. Recently, we have seen so many similarities between teachings that Loch Kelly shared and those that Matt Kahn offers. They use completely different language, come from radically different backgrounds and offer different tools, yet when you boil it down the overlap is obvious. We are jazzed about what we've been experiencing and seeing since we had the pleasure of having conversations with these two luminaries back to back. In this episode we are chatting about how we’ve been integrating the connections between their teachings on what Matt would call ego and soul, or what Loch would call ego and awake awareness, and how we’ve been applying the wisdom to our lives.

Jun 12, 2018

Today we are speaking with Matt Kahn. Matt’s teachings are very near and dear to our hearts and have made a tremendous difference to both of us on our paths, so we were thrilled to do this interview. If you don’t know Matt’s work- he is the author of the books Whatever Arises Love That, and his hot off the press book, Everything is Here to Help You. He is also well known for his abundant YouTube channel, filled with video excerpts from the numerous retreats and events that he holds each year. Matt is a rare breed as a spiritual teacher- I would describe him as an energy healer/empath, nondual/mystic, pragmatic and grounded yet interdimensional teacher who- wait for it dear listeners- teaches directly to the needs of the energetically sensitive souls, or what we call the “sensies”. What others have called empaths, or highly sensitive people. In other words, us, our tribe here at Bliss and Grit. If you want a deep dive into what really is the ego and how do we make the journey to living not from ego but from soul? What really is the soul, and what is the interplay with the body as we go on this journey- well have we got the conversation for you. You can find more of Matt Kahn's work at mattkahn.org. 

Jun 5, 2018

This week we’re going deeper on a conversation we had a few months back on Awakening and the nervous system. Through numerous personal experiences, recent interviews and a course we’ve been taking with a teacher named Neelam on the Awakening Nervous System, we’ve been getting an even more profound understanding of the role the nervous system may play in recognizing our true nature. From discussing what it means to be present, to the basics of poly-vagal theory and tools we can use to create shifts, we’re exploring the fascinating world of the human nervous system.

May 29, 2018

Today we are having a conversation with Loch Kelly. Loch is the author of Shift into Freedom, and the creator of the recent audio course offering through Sounds True, Effortless Mindfulness Now. He is a meditation teacher, psychotherapist, and founder of the non-profit, Open-Hearted Awareness Institute. Loch has collaborated with neuroscientists at Yale, UPenn and NYU. He has been teaching seminars, supervising clinicians and practicing awareness psychotherapy in New York for 30 years. It’s also worth mentioning that he teaches in our favorite lineage, the human being lineage! Which makes him a perfect teacher to have on Bliss+Grit. We so admire how he talks about awakening as a normal developmental potential for all human beings, and how his approach is so practical and available. We talk about how the answer to any question related to relieving suffering is always the same: shift. We also discuss how to shift, and Loch offers several experiential practices throughout our conversation. So you don’t get to just hear about it, you can experience it for yourself.

May 22, 2018

In this weeks episode we’re exploring a listeners question around anger. Many people have been exposed to the damaging effects of anger in their world. Others have been taught that anger is at best a useless emotion, and at worst, a dangerous one. Over time, we can begin to label anger as wrong or “unspiritual,” essentially something “evolved people” don’t feel. Yet, as this listener shared in her letter to us, anger can also be an important step in healing and reaching a genuine place of forgiveness. Join us in exploring the differences between feeling and acting from anger, understanding anger as a boundary and how we can meet this often maligned emotion with heart.

May 15, 2018

This week we had the great pleasure of recording actually live and in person! And we had the chance to be together right after Vanessa’s time on retreat with Matt Kahn. So, needless to say, we spent a lot of our time together like the geeks that we are going over her notes. In this episode we went over a portion of her notes that we found particularly resonant. We’re talking about not knowing; And how and why “I don’t know” is a powerful, clear, open, and relieving position to come from.

May 1, 2018

In last week’s episode we touched on the benefits of bringing mindful attention to thoughts and patterns. This week, inspired by a quote from Gangaji, we’re taking it deeper with a conversation on the importance of vigilance. If you’ve been listening to us for a while you know we’re usually speaking on how hyper-vigilance can create tensions and feed fears of unworthiness, yet, we also want to stay alert to ways in which our unconscious programs are running. Moreover, we are served in bringing our attention towards our own innate wholeness. In this episode we kick around the concept of sacred vigil, and the deep power of our attention.

Apr 24, 2018

We’ve talked recently about bypass in the last several episodes as seeking to only feel bliss, to avoid the messiness of a human life and human emotions. Which can bring up the idea that maybe we really need to double down on the grittiness of life in order to be on a genuine path. What about when suffering becomes the bypass of choice- as always, unconsciously and in innocence- we can subconsciously emphasize the struggle. Or over-tolerate the struggle. In which case we lose access to joy, to ease, to the nourishing movements of life. We talk about the expectations and projections that our paths and lives should look a certain way and how that can play out at the two poles of the bypass pendulum. We also discuss how to discern what habits, expectations, and projections are operating in us, and how to relax into unfolding rather than manage ourselves into what we think it “should” look like.

Apr 17, 2018

Amoda Maa is a contemporary spiritual teacher, author, and speaker. After years of spiritual seeking, meditation, and immersion in psychospiritual practices, an experience of the dark night of the soul led her to a profound inner awakening. Her teachings are free of religion and tradition, and she brings to them a deep understanding of the human journey, born out of her own experience.

Amoda is the author of several books her newest being Embodied Enlightenment, a book that Brooke and I both loved. It is about the journey of being fully awake and fully human, and we highly recommend it.

Amoda offers private meetings and retreats, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and events. To find out more about Amoda Maa please go to, visit http://www.amodamaa.com.

In this episode with Amoda we cover so much. We speak of course about being fully awake and fully human, we touch on spiritual bypassing, agendas, tenderness, and common misconceptions about the spiritual path. The whole conversation is a treasure that you can listen to over and again.

Apr 3, 2018

Today we’re diving into the issue of spiritual bypass. As I mention in the episode, I have beef with how common bypass is held up as what the spiriutal path IS. When in fact, it is in direct opposition to what the path is. As Dorothy Hunt says in her book Ending the Search, spiritual concepts and spirit are not the same thing... It is the use of an idea of spirituality that keeps us unconscious” Or as Vanessa says, bypass is using the spiritual path to avoid your shit. Usually while wearing the identifiers we call “spiritual person”

Now, of course, bypass is something we will all do to some degree as we walk this path. I have done it plenty. So we’re not trying to create vigilance against this thing called bypass, But having a good working understanding of what the path is and what bypass is- and that they are not at all the same thing- can help us to have a deeply meaningful and transformative path and to stop unconcsious harm towards ourselves and to the world.

Mar 27, 2018

In today's episode we are sharing a conversation that we had with our special guest, Dorothy Hunt.

Dorothy serves as spiritual director of Moon Mountain Sangha and is the founder of the San Francisco Center for Meditation and Psychotherapy (SFCMP). Inspired by the legendary sage Ramana Maharshi and Adyashanti, she is the author of several books, including her latest Ending the Search. Dorothy currently offers meditation and satsang gatherings, weekend intensives and retreats, and also sees individuals for both psychotherapy and for what’s called dokusan- a private meeting with a spiritual teacher. For more on Dorothy, please visit dorothyhunt.org.

In this conversation we explore with Dorothy what the term awakening means to her and what it would look like to “end the search.” We also speak on unconditional vs conditional love, how we can come closer to our true identity, what it means to be fully human, and so much more. We're so pleased to offer you all this beautiful, heartfelt conversation with Dorothy Hunt.

*Please note that this episode was recorded over the telephone, and therefore, does not have the optimal sound quality we aim for. The conversation however, was so rich that we knew it would make up for it.

Mar 20, 2018

Today we’re talking about agendas that we are frequently, unconsciously and in innocence, acting out in our lives. These agendas may have helped our younger selves to feel safe but they are not who we fundamentally are, and they can create exactly the opposite of what we are desiring in our lives. We discuss how to have tenderness when we greet our own shadow, what is the difference between agendas and who we are? And we call out some of the top agendas that we all take on- the tough one, the victim, the martyr, the good girl or boy. Importantly, we ask the question why are we talking about this- because it is not because we believe anyone is broken and needs to fix themselves actually. But on a relative level these agendas are creating repetitive painful patterns in our lives. And it’s nice to have lives that hurt less and are more satisfying on a soul level.

Mar 13, 2018

In today’s episode we’re speaking about what we’re calling Micro-shaming; which we could describe as the subtle ways we can inadvertently shame people for being different than us. If you’ve been listening to us for a while you know that exploring and dismantling shame is dear to our hearts. In this conversation we cover a broad expanse of topics such as “sick shaming,” shaming others for their emotions, beliefs or relationships, as well as how shame can show up in our medical and wellness industries. This topic felt especially relevant in this day and age where we have so many “gurus” out there giving well-intentioned, but sometimes unhelpful, advice that may be creating patterns in shame in us without us even noticing.

Mar 6, 2018

Today we are being with our heartbreak, grief, rage, and helplessness after the latest US mass shooting. With our work on Bliss and Grit we do our best- as fallable humans who are subject to all the fallable human things- not to promote a spiritual path that is a bypass. That is not about up and away to that magical no suffering place over there. To be human is to have a human experience and that includes suffering. And it also includes heaven on earth. And everything in between. In this conversation we really just inquire about how to be with the really massive, raw emotions when they do come.

Feb 27, 2018

This week, inspired by Brene Brown, we’re speaking about true belonging. What fascinates us about this topic is that while the drive to be a part of a community is so primal, it seems that to find the type of connection we’re all looking for we must first belong to ourselves. In this talk we’re discussing the differences between fitting in and belonging, the experience of being in a group and still feeling lonely, and the role that shame may play in creating our sense of isolation. We also go way down a rabbit hole on the origins of shame and the relational damage it can create. Tune in to hear more.

Feb 20, 2018

We are still very enamoured of our weekend with Matt Kahn and we decided to zoom in a bit on a day of the retreat where we explored forgiveness. Really this is millenia-old spiritual wisdom - to forgive. How do we forgive? How do we forgive ourselves when we can’t yet forgive? How do we at least move towards it and soften in that direction and- really- let’s look at the benefits of actual lived forgiveness instead of the typical “you should forgive” platitude. Ultimately the internal process of forgiveness can be the most powerful healing remedy both for ourselves and also for the world.

Feb 13, 2018

Today we’re having a conversation with Lissa Boles of The Soul Map about purpose. One of our real calls with this show is to marry the spiritual path with our tangible human lives. In reality, they are exactly one and the same of course but they do often get divided. That said, one of the things that we hear from you all about frequently is the issue of living one’s purpose. Lissa’s work is really the marriage of the spiritual path with how we live out our purpose particularly in the area of our career, or how you follow your being to your right work, so we thought she would be a fantastic guest to have on!

In our conversation we touch on conscious culture making, how actively intending to change culture is an extraordinary thing- and really uniquely front and center at this particular time in human history. We get at how to recognize that we are part of a creative process and how to see our lives signs and signals as cues to our own unique process and right work. We also touch on the trouble with “I don’t know” which, if you’ve heard me say it before, tends to be one of my favorite mantras, but Lissa exposes its shadow side here.

Feb 6, 2018

In our conversation with Sangoma John Lockley he was kind enough to offer a beautiful meditation and song. It was so lovely that we decided to add it as a bonus episode in order to make it easier for listeners to return to it and use it within their own practice. You can find more about John, his book Leopard Warrior, and his available sessions at his website.

Feb 6, 2018

John Lockley is one of the first white men in recent history to become a fully initiated sangoma (shaman) in the Xhosa lineage of South Africa. He trained under Zen master Su Bong from South Korea, and spent ten years in apprenticeship with Mum Ngwevu, a medicine woman from the Xhosa tribe. Recently John authored a book called Leopard Warrior, which is not only a great exploration of African Teachings on ancestry, instinct, and dreams, but a wonderful autobiographical account of his journey to becoming a Sangoma. 

In this episode we’re discussing what it means to be fully human, how aliveness can be a messenger of our purpose, cultural appropriation, how to heal your ancestral lineage, the danger of avoiding the shadow, and aligning with your own wild nature. John shared with us that his reason for doing this work is to support people in becoming intoxicated with the sweet spirit of Mother Nature, and you can feel it in his words. 

For more on John’s book Leopard Warrior, or for info on private sessions with him, visit johnlockley.com

Jan 30, 2018

We are very recently back from a weekend retreat with Matt Kahn at Multiversity 1440 in California. This talk was recorded pretty much immediately after we returned home and we were truly deep in digestion mode, as we continue to be. However, from through the fog of integration time we brought forward just a few of the threads that we resonant for us in a weekend that we both found remarkably transformative and powerful. Much of what made it that was was the time to be steeped in Matt’s presence which demonstrates what it feels like when everything is truly and wholeheartedly welcomed. Being with him and experiencing a space where nothing gets pushed away shook something loose where we were in a state of love. So what happens when you can no longer find your shame, your guilt, your pain? What does life look and feel like post-healing?

Jan 23, 2018

Last week’s episode on aliveness brought up one of our favorite questions again- 'What if nothing in life is actually a problem?' So this week we decided to take that question and go deeper. This has been an exploration for us for a while now in our own lives, and in many of our episodes. In today’s conversation we get into topics such as how concepts like blame, deserve and fairness are beliefs that can contribute to problematizing tendencies, how making ourselves into a problem is an epidemic, how to see life through a different kind of lens, and how to hold yourself from the part of you that knows there is nothing to solve. In our modern culture that hyper-focuses on problems and solutions, this talk can be a very medicinal invitation to ease.

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