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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Nov 21, 2017

This week’s episode is about exploring the ways in which we can come to identify with ourselves as “someone with problems.” Acknowledging aspects of ourselves that are unhealed or messy can be painful, yet we can still have this funny way of seeing and representing ourselves as the broken one. In a recent retreat with teacher John Prendergast Brooke had a revelation that some of her patterning linked back to getting rewarded earlier in life when she wasn’t well. This understanding kicked off a beautiful conversation for us where we explore safety, holding complexity and the real habitual tendency we can have to downplay ourselves and stay small.

Nov 14, 2017

We are all about the embodied spiritual path over here and we have endless respect and gratitude for these miraculous bodies that we get to live in. But can we over-identify with our bodies? What are the repercussions of that? It seems in spiritual worlds we swing the pendulum between ignoring the body completely to making it the total focus of attention. What do those extremes look like and what might a useful middle way be?

Nov 7, 2017

In this episode we’re talking about what happens when you lose the sense that you “have it all together.” As humans we’re always trying to pin things down. We want to categorize, create step-by-step action plans, essentially identify and solidify life, including ourselves, in As we evolve on our own paths, we’re noticing that our ability to conceive of ourselves as people who have it all together is slipping through our fingers, and we’ve got a lot to say about why that’s challenging. In the process though, we’re also offering a potential new way to orient towards life as the ability to pin things down falls away.

Oct 31, 2017

Today we are thrilled to be joined by teacher Jeannie Zandi. Jeannie is a spiritual teacher who experienced a years long profound dark night of the soul, and here is what she says in her own words about her teaching, “I will use anything I find at my fingertips or that upwells within me to teach and hold space for those who are hungry to turn themselves inside out and live their essence. I will take you to the edge of the abyss and lovingly hold you there. I will tenderly call your name, sing to you, expose your funny spots, hold a radically protected space for your tenderest gooey center, and welcome you into the arms of the nourishing moment to shine as the living presence that you are. I’m fearless, fully engaged, and utterly reliant on the holy." And boy howdy, did we find that to be true. In this conversation we get into our own tender spots, as we always do, but this time with Jeannie holding space for them. We talk about inadequecy and unworthiness, fear, outright terror, and the desire to finally get it together and have it all tidied up. Trauma, the inner tendency to push and to eradicate all the “badness” in us, and our dominant culture of unhealthy yang which can barely even fathom healthy yin. We talk dark night, the creature of the body, and mercy, mercy, mercy for this whole human journey.

Oct 24, 2017

Today we’re talking about what can be called the “unseen worlds.” The unseen worlds can include everything that is outside of our everyday, rational-mind consciousness. Think- intuition, energy, auras, chakras, guardian angels… and other aspects of formless support. In reality, we’re all connected to vast amounts of wisdom and resources, yet so often we’re not consciously aware of it. Our discussion this week moves through two levels of this exploration; first, how it’s possible for us to miss the wisdom and support coming our way because we expect it to arrive differently than it does, and second how to adjust our frequency so we can better hear the languages reality speaks to us in. Naturally, much of this talk circles back to major themes such as learning to listen and trusting your life.

Oct 17, 2017

We all want more peacefulness but we can’t tranquilize ourselves into peacefulness. When we use our paths as an energetic lid on things we don’t want to face it’s not just a desire for peace- it is a fear mechanism. We talk about how the labor of facing the things that aren’t in alignment for us can indeed be painful, but as with any birth there is something else on the other side of all that labor. What if we said it is possible for all categories of your life to be in total fulfillment. Is that one of the most challenging and blasphemous things we can say? When we leave behind simplistic, and I would say harmful, bright-siding ideas that if we can just think happy thoughts we get a happy life, what is this process we are actually talking about? How do clarity and unconditional love for the self lead to an aligned life? What is an aligned life?

Oct 3, 2017

This week we’re talking about Awakening, or as Brooke lovingly refers to it, the A-word. A few episodes back we spoke on The Nervous System and Awakening. Afterwards we received several follow up questions such as What is awakening anyway? Should I be doing it? Am I missing out on something? Hence the playful episode title Awakening FOMO. Really though, in this episode we get into what our thoughts and personal experiences are on what awakening actually means, why we find it vulnerable to talk about, and of course how we support ourselves in what we believe is the path towards living our fullest human potential.

Sep 26, 2017

Today’s episode is a Dear Bliss and Grit- which means one of our lovely listeners wrote us in a question and we had a bunch to say about it! Thank you Jeannie for emailing this one over. Jeannie asks, "As I listened to you talk today, a question arose, which arose again when listening to Matt Kahn on your recommendation. Matt talks a lot about you be the one that you turn to. You tell yourself the things you’ve always needed to hear. I don’t mean to set up a polarization in the question itself, but I’d love to listen to you talk about times when we need to be our own primary caretaker, and times when we can allow ourselves to be cared for by another. As mammals, we are born with bodies and brains that anticipate being “embedded in a nest of warm relationships.” When we (often) find that we aren’t being seen or embraced, it is a violation of that most basic expectation and need. As someone who can swing to all corners of the attachment spectrum, I’m interested in deepening my understanding of when spiritual practice becomes avoidant of intimate relationship, when it’s necessary to be seen, heard, and held by another, and further refinement in discerning the relationship between attachment and spirituality."

Jeannie’s question gets to the heart of attachment issues and spirituality. We unpack what the different attachment styles are, and how we can often choose spiritual practices and paths that can deepen our own attachment issues. And ultimately how can we work with self-compassion and loving whatever arises to make ourselves more available for secure and satisfying bonding with others.

Sep 19, 2017

In this episode we’re chatting about the glorious nervous system. Recently we heard a spiritual teacher named Matt Kahn say that “the Ego is the imagination of an overactive nervous system.” As longtime mind-body practitioners we found this super interesting, especially because it coincided with our own exploration of the ways our limbic system was affecting our health. This got us thinking about the role the nervous system might play in our awakening to truth. We talk a lot about concepts like fear v love, or fear v clarity, but is there benefit to exploring fear through the lens of our nervous system and limbic brain? Does that exploration create more softness in us or does it trigger a shame spiral that births more fear? All this and more as we explore the beauty that is our body.

Sep 12, 2017

In today’s episode we're talking about what actually loving what arises looks like in practice. We’ve all heard the trite spiritual phrases like “meet whatever arises with acceptance” and “Love everything in your experience” “do not judge yourself or others” and trite as they are, and as frequently repeated as they are, genuinely landing in the deep granular practice that these phrases point to is, well, not the most straightforward thing in the world. Certainly it is super duper foreign to everyone livin gin this time and place. Vanessa and I have a highly unprocessed talk about how that’s showing up for each of us as a lived experience. How we are now seeing the million tiny no’s that we say to ourselves all the time, and that we notice everyone saying to themselves and to the world. But what does saying yes to what we find really look like? What’s the difference between tolerance, warmth, and really loving things?

Sep 5, 2017

In this episode we’re talking about the need to be liked. Over the years of self exploration it’s become clear how very much our own desires for approval can drive our choices and cloud out our clarity. Of course, it’s pretty human to want to be accepted by others, but what happens when you do it at you’re own expense? When the desire to be likable takes on a full fledge good girl/boy identity? Or when it keeps your past trauma re-circulating in a never ending loop of self-sacrifice or self-flagellation? These questions are just the surface of this conversation. As approval junkies in rehab we’ve got lots to share on the ever fascinating topic of needing to be liked.

Aug 29, 2017

The last couple of weeks we talked a lot about living from truth, and about how the body is the most useful way to navigate truth. We got into that in our conversation with Kiran Trace last week, and in our talk about what we were learning as we spent some time with Adyashanti. We, kind of, could talk about the body and about navigating what is true for you from the body, forever... so we had a lot more to say on that! What came up for us is the way we separate ourselves into “me” and “my body”- and how that separation- that perception that we are NOT our bodies- is where we objectify ourselves and lose access to the wisdom of the body. We get into how we can have unconditional love for ourselves, how to make room for the body to just always be in a process instead of “getting it right, finally”, and how to acknowledge the ways we see and treat the body as “other”.

Aug 22, 2017

If you’ve listened to the show before you probably know that we’ve been studying with our teacher Kiran Trace for a while now. Topics like “Pain Bodies” and the “Delicious Yes” were first heard in sitting with Kiran. Since many questions we get from listeners revolve in some way around ‘how can we know truth in the body,’ and since Kiran has been so fundamental in our own journeys, we thought it would be powerful to bring our mentor on the show to gain some clarity right from the source. Kiran is masterful at guiding people towards a more loving and direct relationship with their bodies and their lives. One of her upcoming classes, called The Delicious Body, is her approach to the foundational exploration of learning to discern truth in your own body. So we asked Kiran to share a bit about this class, which you’ll hear us reference a few times throughout, because Kiran's work has been incredibly helpful in helping us discern our true north. This conversation is like an insiders “how-to” on tuning into your own inner compass for revelation and healing. From themes of self-love, to trusting yourself, to objectification and body dysmorphia, we’re having a mind-expanding conversation on self-recovery with our beloved teacher Kiran Trace. If you are interested in taking Kiran's Delicious Body course, we are providing an affiliate link which just means that you get $200 off the cost of the course plus other discounted goodies, and a percentage of your tuition goes back into supporting Bliss + Grit. So if it does resonate for you, please use the link when you register and we greatly appreciate you helping to support the show!

Aug 15, 2017

In today’s episode we're talking about a recent weekend we spent together in Ithaca going to an event Adyashanti was having there. We do a general download on what it was like to be with him, but more specifically we point to his lens on what it means to trust your life- a truism that all of our teachers point us to. This is really the heart of this path. In so many ways you could say it IS the journey. Adyashanti also talked about how in many ways awakening is you becoming the most you. So on the path we wind up recognizing how often we are in conflict with both who we are and with what’s showing up in life. What are some of the complexities of how we turn away from the truth? And, another one of my favorite topics of conversation, how is the body our most accurate truth sensing device?

Aug 8, 2017

This week we’re talking about our life’s purpose. Recently Vanessa and I have been seeing this differently in our own lives- why do we frequently, in our culture anyway, chase our “purpose” as, some big identity-defining career goal? Part of why it’s been so interesting for us to untie this is that the whole concept of our lives and who we are get woven into the idea of purpose. There is this way that we can create small boxes for ourselves to live in vs letting things have their own lives. Ultimately it leads us to figuring out how we let life come through us instead of grabbing at it and trying to mold it. Which can be surprisingly foreign!

Aug 1, 2017

This week is a Dear Bliss and Grit episode. We’re exploring the subtle edges of relationships as we answer a listeners question on love. The major theme of the conversation being- how do we cope in a relationship when our partners difficult circumstances prevent our needs from being met? Do we wait things out and hope for improvement? Or do we give up on a relationship even though we value the person in our lives? Anytime we get into the topic of relationship and love we have lots to say about all those nuances that go into us learning to show up in intimacy.

Jul 25, 2017

In today’s episode we're talking about life as an empath. It sprung out of our last episode about energy- we realized how helpful understanding the energetic underpinnings of patterns has helped us to be in our lives as empaths. So if you are an empath- or a highly sensitive person, or a sensey as we like to say- you’ve probably gotten really good at some management techniques for how to not get overwhelmed by the world. Maybe you’ve even encountered a number of well-intentioned people who teach techniques about how to shield yourself from feeling too much. But managing and shielding is hard work. It’s fatiguing. What if instead your could learn how to land in yourself- I mean really inhabit yourself- so that you didn’t feel at the whims of your environment and you didn’t feel like you needed to be vigilant against your environment and your sensey self?

Jul 4, 2017

This week’s episode is all about energy. How can we experience energy within and around ourselves? Why is it important- or even interesting- to look at energy in relation to healing and wholeness? Could experiencing the subtle vibrational realms be the birthplace of our intuition? As Sensey people who’ve worked with energy throughout our careers and lives we’ve got a lot to say here about the vibrational reality of things.

Jun 27, 2017

Today’s episode is a little different! This episode is actually an interview with Judith Blackstone, the founder of The Realization Process- which Vanessa and I both became certified in this spring. I did this interview originally over on my other show, Liberated Body. If you haven’t discovered her work, allow me to introduce Judith to you. She is the creator of The Realization Process, which is an integrated approach to embodiment, psychological, relational, physical healing, and spiritual awakening. Judith is a clinical psychologist and a meditation practitioner and student of contemplative traditions with more than 40 years of experience. She is the author of several books including Belonging Here and The Enlightenment Process, and she is also the co-founder of the Non-Duality Institute which is dedicated to the science and practice of non-duality. In this conversation we’re talking about “the issues in the tissues”, or how emotional pain gets bound in the body- and also how it can be released, what fundamental consciousness is and why it’s useful to attune to it, how your experience of gravity and your fluidity of movement changes with this embodiment work, what happens when people bypass their stuck emotional pain, and how this work can help what I call the “senseys” of the world- the empaths- to do their work and to live fully without feeling overwhelmed much of the time.

Jun 20, 2017

In today’s episode we're talking about the identity crisis that can arise as you heal and transform. Whether we’re talking about gaining more psychological health, or the big ole wake up call of the spiritual path, either way you are eventually going to shed some part of yourself that used to feel like you- both to yourself and to those around you- and then... what happens next?! Vanessa and I are talking about navigating the identity crises that are a natural part of any healing journey.

Jun 13, 2017

Today's episode is a "Dear Bliss+Grit" in which we’re responding a listeners question on Self-Compassion. Is there no place for self-discipline? For pushing yourself to do things that you know could be good for you even though you don’t want to? How can you differentiate between fear holding you back from taking an action vs a genuine yearning for another experience? We're chatting about how we can listen better to what’s the right medicine for ourselves at any given time, and exploring the subtle edges of compassion, indulgence and discipline on the spiritual path.

Jun 6, 2017

In today’s episode we're talking about the importance of having “people” with you on the spiritual path. If you’re getting curious about- and no longer fully living by- the conditioning of your own life and your culture’s preferences it can be strange... and lonely sometimes. In Buddhism one of the key “jewels” of the path is called the sangha. For those of you who don’t skew Buddhist- it’s basically about having a community of people who can be with you on the path. People who are committed to being with reality. Essentially- people who get the journey you are undertaking. Today Vanessa and I are talking about a number of things related to this- coming out of the spiritual closet, all the typical human things that come up in real sanghas, how to find your people or even just one person, and why supportive community is so important.

May 30, 2017

Today’s episode is all about Self-Compassion. We got a lot of responses after our Pain Bodies in Action episode and we thought it was time to speak about what to do as you’re noticing these old wounds- which includes a whopping dose of self-compassion. From breaking down the nuance of self-compassion to karmic patterning to discussing how to find safety in the body, we’re all up in the compassion conversation.

May 23, 2017

In today’s episode we're talking about a snippet of Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth that caught my eye. He says that if we approach everything in life with acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm then we will- essentially- not be suffering and will be in the present moment. I usually hate things that feel like a blueprint to a happy life but, I gotta say, this one’s got some good bones! Vanessa and I dive into the nuance of what we think exploring this way of being means.

May 16, 2017

In this episode we’re talking about the experiences we’ve had on the embodied spiritual path- including touching into our own pain bodies. Actually we’re literally experiencing our pain bodies while recording making for an extra revelatory talk! We know you’ve heard us use the term before so in this episode we share some definitions of what a pain body actually is. And as usual many stories about what we’ve both been facing, and shedding in recent times. It’s personal, it’s philosophical and well, you’ll just have to tune in to see what we mean.

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