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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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Dec 4, 2018

We’re speaking today about the implications of the words we choose. Historically, we’ve bristled at what we perceived as a “turn your frown upside down” approach to language. These days though, we’ve both been called towards exploring the intersection of language, evolution and creation. Could we have been wrong? Might shifting to the use of “positive” language actual impact our reality? Listen in to hear us share our thoughts on the benefits and cautions of bringing attention to the words you use, the dilemma of bypass and judgement, and how healing might just come through making different choices.

Nov 27, 2018

Welcome to our 100th episode! And I think it’s appropriate that our 100th episode is basically a popcorn episode about what transformative nuggets are sticking with us from so many of our conversations and experiences in recent months. In particular, our recent episode with Neelam, but also what has really stuck with us in other episodes and conversations, and even at the SAND conference.

100 makes for a nice even number to create a kind of bookmark- where have we been with this show and in our lives? We have been engaged in a public healing process- which fyi is not what we thought we were going to do when we started the show- but anyway here we are. We’ve aired a lot of pain, a lot of personal insights... and we want to share where we’re at these days- and that there is good news. Healing isn’t a forever thing, there is such a thing as healed. and we can have and a new experience of life on the other side of that.

Nov 20, 2018

In this conversation we’re deep diving into the pattern of co-dependency. We’ve both been co-dependent in our lives and have slowly but surely been working our way through to greater freedom. So in today’s episode we’re looking at what does it actually mean to be co-dependent, how does it affect us or show up in our lives, and of course, ultimately, how can we begin to shift this pattern that can be exhausting, frustrating and limiting to so many of us?

Nov 13, 2018

Our guest today, Neelam, is a direct disciple of Papaji, and she has been holding satsang internationally since 1996. She runs the non profit, Fire of Truth Satsanga. Neelam’s unequivocal commitment to truth helps students turn inward again and again to release underlying patterns of conditioning which block the recognition of their true nature as Presence. The clarity and discriminating wisdom that are intrinsic to this awakened state are given freely by Neelam through Spiritual Inquiry, as she invites her students into the same recognition of truth that her teacher Papaji transmitted to her. In Our conversation with Neelam we talk about coming to know yourself as presence, what trust in your true nature means- and how the genuine experience of that trust can change our lives, what true freedom is, and how we can discern the difference between when past is arising, and playing out it’s habitual patterns and using it’s built up momentum, and when we are actually present. We discuss in detail what Awakening and the capacity of the nervous system have to do with one another, what trauma actually is, and how to get out of the grooves and charges of the past so that we can truly be here and not in a remembered past or imagined future. We were also grateful that Neelam spoke so eloquently about tenderness and kindness as the true marker of if we are in the present, and how treating ourselves with tenderness can be the real alchemical agent.

Oct 30, 2018

In this episode we’re excited to catch up with each other and integrate some of what we have experienced recently in the presence of so many amazing guest conversations, in particular our recent one with David Thomas. We’re exploring conditioning, again, but after being with David we’re posing the question to ourselves “what if it’s all conditioning?” What if, while we are in ego consciousness, all of our thoughts are simply products of our culture and lineage that become habitual? And if so, what would that mean about how we can shift out of our chronic patterns of suffering?

Oct 23, 2018

Today we are talking with David Thomas. David is a self-realization teacher, speaker, and writer living in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Through the practice of Self-inquiry and meditation, he has acquired a deeper understanding of the inner self and true liberation. David now seeks to support individuals in their pursuit of self-realization through his writing and speaking. The insights he shares within his videos, quotes, and poems are created to help nurture the healing of individuals seeking release from their pain and suffering. All of his teachings come from his personal experience, so he gives an inside perspective from being lost in ignorance to finding the truth within.

We were both immediately struck by what a bright light David is. He has a very clear way of pointing out what conditioning actually is- how we are programmed and how we lose connection to life. His clarity on what the Being is- what direct experience is- versus our thoughts about ourselves can really rock your world in this talk if you sit with it. And his insights on the dark times we are living in as a result of how we have been forced to shut down our hearts is spot on. David points out That the heart always sees the truth, is always speaking the truth, but we are so cut off from it that we don’t feel it breaking and crying out. He also talks about the power of rock bottom. That when you are really broken, that that is when you are closest to God- and you can use that as a way immediately into God. Listening to David you can really feel what it means to be a Being who is living from the perspective of eternity- who is out of the way we think about time, and who understands the creator natures we all have at core. It was an absolute joy to talk with him. You can find more of his work via his YouTube channel, which is Enlightenedmindz.

Oct 16, 2018

In this episode we are speaking with our very special guest and friend Jeannie Zandi. Jeannie has been on our show before and today is offering some profound, must-hear insight on yin and yang that we are so excited to share with you. 

 Our conversation touches upon so much including what true power looks like, the imbalances our culture has perpetuated, what healing would look like through the lens of yin and how we can move forward together in dismantling the conditioning that has led to so much pain. For anyone exploring healing on both a personal and collective level this episode is for you. She put words to a revolution we’re just now realizing we’ve already been a part of. 

Jeannie is truly such a force of love. She is the director of Living as Love, a nonprofit organization dedicated to seeding a culture of the Heart on the planet, inspiring, teaching and supporting people to live from their essence as Love.  A year before the birth of her daughter, Jeannie was plunged into a dark night of the soul that culminated in a radical shift of consciousness. She is known for her fearless clarity, tender mercy toward humanness, and a juicy, poetic and often humorous style that draws from Advaita Vedanta, Sufism, Christian mysticism and the ongoing revelation of fully engaged living.  Residing in Colorado, she travels widely in the US, bringing a down-to-earth embodied teaching of living as love. For more info on Jeannie and the upcoming course she speaks about in the episode please go to www.jeanniezandi.com 

Oct 9, 2018

Today we’re talking about when we are so contracted by very real things like chronic illness, chronic pain, or PTSD and we can’t reach a state of gratitude, or relief, and certainly not joy. Instead, we are coping with responses of our nervous systems and our physiology that feel much more akin to being trapped in a hell realm. These are the dimensions of reality where we can’t get any perspective, we don’t remember how to meet basic needs, and we spin and deal with quite a lot of suffering on top of the suffering of the illness or of the situation itself. We get into how to survive and work with these states. They are very painful and disorienting, and there are ways to open up some workability even when you are in the midst of one.

Oct 2, 2018

Today we are speaking with Dr. Miles Neale. Dr. Neale is among the leading voices of the current generation of Buddhist teachers and a forerunner in the emerging field of contemplative psychotherapy. He is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice, international speaker, and faculty member of Tibet House US and Weill Cornell Medical College. Miles is author of Gradual Awakening: The Tibetan Buddhist Path of Becoming Fully Human along with its audio companion of guided meditations The Gradual Path. The proceeds for both the book and the program go to supporting the Kopan Nunnery in Nepal. He is also coeditor of the groundbreaking volume Advances in Contemplative Psychotherapy. Miles is based in New York City. For more information please visit www.milesneale.com. We’ll also have that link in the show resources for you.

In this episode we go deep into what Miles calls the “sickness of paradigm” that he believes is plaguing our modern cultures. We explore whether spirituality has become a necessary medicine for our current crises, what may help us wake up a sense of interconnectivity, and the dilemmas presented to us by the trend towards watered-down meditation practices, which he has termed “McMindfulness”. Miles presents us with the possibility that all human beings have the potential to awaken if they are willing to walk the gradual steps of the heroes journey.

Sep 25, 2018

Today we are speaking with Will Pye. Will’s first book is titled Blessed With A Brain Tumor; Realizing It’s All Gift and Learning to Receive. So needless to say, he was a perfect guest for us to have on as a follow up to our basic trust conversation from last week.

Will is a social entrepreneur, teacher, transformational coach, speaker and author. He leads workshops and retreats around the world. Will’s second book, The Gratitude Prescription; Harnessing the Power of Thankfulness for Healing and Happiness is due for release this May. He is also the founder of the community of awakening and sacred activism, with the title we very much love, The Love & Truth Party: www.loveandtruthparty.org, And of the year-long program and coaching group, Living Impeccably.

In our conversation with Will here, the thing we dove most into is surrender: of course surrender gets talked about a lot in spiritual circles, so we wanted to bring you something more useful than “I think you should surrender”. That said, we talk about what it is and what it isn’t. How life is life-ing and preparing us perfectly for our hero’s journeys, the projections we can have about someone’s terrible news, or in this case diagnosis, and how Will instead seems to be living like he’s on a really fun scavenger hunt or adventure, rather than as someone who is burdened by the reality of living with a brain tumor. That said, we also debunk some of the ideas that awakening or realization causes one to no longer have human emotions or plain old bad days. However, Will points out that he has found it possible to not suffer about his suffering. a crucial distinction. You can find more of Will's work at willpye.com

Sep 11, 2018

Inspired by the teachings of AH Almaas, today we’re discussing a concept he calls Basic Trust. Basic trust is the implicit sense that we are connected, safe, held and supported by life. What fascinated us the most about this concept is the revelation that when Basic trust gets ruptured spiritual aspirations such as surrender, acceptance or letting go can feel out of reach or effortful. Also, how much or how little basic trust you have can affect the quality and experience of your spiritual awakening. In this conversation we explore our experiences and perspectives on basic trust as well as Almaas’s definition, including how it is fed, how it is ruptured, and ultimately how we can go about healing.

Sep 4, 2018

We are happily back from our 6-week break, and in today’s conversation we are talking about what we are talking about! In our 6-weeks to integrate, reflect, and deepen what’s up here at Bliss and Grit, we realized that we haven’t spoken so directly that this show is about what we can call awakening. For many of you who are listeners, that’s no surprise at all, but if we choose to get really direct that that’s what we are devoted to, then it makes sense to talk about what IS awakening? Why does it get a bad, or weird, rap, why were we shy about admitting that in the past, and, well what is it again!?! We discuss what it means to us to “wake up” by looking at the difference between object-based reality and subject, or present-moment-experience-based reality. We get at new angles on what the ego is. And we open up about why we care about this, and why we refuse to be slaves to our own conditioning anymore.

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.

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