Thomas Hübl: Hello and welcome to the Collective Trauma Summit. My name is Thomas Hübl, and I have the big honor, pleasure, and curiosity to be sitting with you here, Alanis Morissette.
Alanis, welcome to our summit here.
Alanis Morissette: Thank you, Thomas. It’s an honor to be invited.
Thomas: It’s an honor to be here with you. There are many things that I’m interested in. Of course, most probably I know more about your life than you about mine but there are so many things that what I know and how I see you moving in the world that I’m interested in.
The first is there’s music, there’s art, and then, there’s healing, trauma, self-development, spirituality. I think you’re into both very strongly. How come? It’s lovely to see how we become what we become, so what put you on your path and how did life invite you to what you’re doing today?
Alanis: That’s a great question, and I have some guesses. Yeah, that’s the best I can call them, are guesses as to why my proclivities are what they are. I think for me, the healing arts, for me, that’s the whole sort of broad stroke umbrella of what I fall under. I think the temperament that I am, highly sensitive and I’m an empath in multitudinous ways. I think what comes along with that is a conscientiousness and a servicefullness.
It’s an orientation, basically wherever I show up, musically, artistically, psychotherapeutically, trauma recovery-ly, it’s all with an idea of wanting to show up to serve through the senses, through art, through body, through movement, through surrendering to flow, and evidencing what it might look like for people on stage. One of the most resonant moments for me is being on stage and really kind of tapping into that mirror neuron thing where my movement, my expression of any given emotion is a green light at least, or an invitation at best for people to experience that in their own body and their own personalized version of it. Really, I think being in the public eye for me with the expressions that I do, the self expressions in so many ways, it’s indulgent for me, but at the same time it’s an invitation for people as well. I don’t know if that answers your question, but might touch on it.
Thomas: Yeah, of course it touches on it. Tell me a little bit more about how you experience highly sensitive empath, how is life as an empath. I think many people that might be listening here can resonate maybe because they might have a similar inclination, but tell me a little bit, how is that and how does that work with being so much in the public eye? You’re so exposed, many people that are so sensitive, they try to find their own safe corner and maybe you can speak a bit to them.
Alanis: Yeah, basically, I see it as the large part of the bell shape is extroversion, masculinity, we still live in a patriarchal context. Basically, the messaging to those of us who are on the small part of the bell shape curve, those of us who are sensitive, empathic, introverted, certain numbers on the Enneagram, it’s basically the messaging that I got and was unconscious and drove a lot of my choices through life was how can I pretend to be extroverted? How can I position well, in a world that seems almost foreign to me?
I used to watch people who had a temperament different than mine and wish that I could be like that at first. Now, I see being an empath and being highly sensitive as a sweet superpower. But I do love the big part of the bell shape curve. I love the mainstream, so I’m besotted with it. I’ll be inside of it and I have to be responsible for this body and the speed with which the current of the transmission of life courses through me. I think ultimately, we all have to be responsible for the speed with which that current moves through us. That might look like after a show or a big event where there’s a lot of stimulation that there’s pin drop silence for me that I can restore. That’s really my responsibility to make sure that whatever lifestyle I’ve chosen is sustainable. I’ve had chapters that are not sustainable, and parenthood is an interesting chapter where there’s no… Three hours to myself is not really an option.
For me, the more I got to know, I think knowledge has been great power for me. The more I’ve gotten to know my temperament, gotten to know my amygdala, getting into the neuroscience, the trauma recovery, the deep introspection and intrapersonal intelligence fostered and cultivated has been really powerfully kind to myself and to those who may come to my shows. I feel like we all find each other eventually, and I know that it was the meek shall inherit the Earth, but I actually think the introverts and the sensitives and us philosophers archetypally us being in positions of leadership is a boon for the consciousness of this funny planet. I think to the best of my ability, I love supporting certainly my own self, but supporting those who are temperamentally, maybe predisposed to not wanting to be in the public eye, not doing the keynote talks, not doing the TED talks, supporting those people in launching their biggest vision while supporting them and taking care of their body and their temperament.
Thomas: That’s beautiful. I was going to say the same. I think when people listen to you, especially when they feel resonance with what you’re saying, that it feels empowering to them. It also sounds to me like you are on a journey and that journey made you also stronger. Maybe you can speak a little bit to your own healing journey and in retrospect, what do you feel are the cornerstones of your healing journey? Because if we listen to you, then we can learn and apply it maybe in our life in a bit of different way, but there are certain principles, maybe you can speak a bit to those.
Alanis: Yeah, I feel blessed in that I have a pretty deep understanding of a lot of therapeutic models, so in some ways, I feel like whatever itch is happening that there is a scratch available. I’m a huge fan of Dick Schwartz and IFS work, I’ve been a parts person since as far back as I can remember, to the point where some of my friends are like, “Okay, with the multitudeness. We want the singularity.” I’m like, “Okay, I’ll give you my overarching part, we’ll speak with you.”
But I have a lot of abundance in terms of whether it’s intellectual, sensual, somatic feelings. There’s just interpersonal inquiry has been my way of life always, so as often as I can be silent is a key piece and then, also knowing what my priorities are and values. For me, there’s the top three. First one is connection and it’s triactic. Connection with spirit in whatever way that shows up for me, it’s often shamanism or just silence and then interpersonal, so relational marriage, dating, friendships, colleagueship, how to find the grace inside of the humanity of those interactions. It’s life and a macrocosmic service, it’s interpersonal and then intrapersonal is a big deal. I know how scary it can be to go within, especially if we’re alone and especially if that interiority has been terrifying.
My son was maybe six years old, he’s 12 now, and I remember at one point he was feeling a lot of feelings and I asked him. “What’s going on in there?” He said, “There’s a lot going on in here, mommy. It’s scary.” I said, “Well, let’s all go in with you. We’ll go in together.” He said okay. It’s something about us supporting each other in this inquiry. That’s what I also love about IFS too is that you’re going in, but in my case with the therapist, I think therapists, any moment I can get a chance to thank them, because it’s been a lifesaving dynamic with me. But the idea of cultivating this interiority, and for those of us who are introverted and empaths, it’s a way of life for us. My interior world is so rapturous, there’s so many amazing internal dialogues and conversations to be had in here and insights. My time alone is sacred and then, a lot of times with highly sensitive people, one-on-one is powerful. Anytime I can create a one-on-one conversation or dialogue or listening, that’s my favorite.
Thomas: That’s beautiful. You spoke to your part a little bit about your parenting. What do you feel becoming a parent, being a parent contributed to your development?
Alanis: I think I underestimated the receiving because my orientation to counter what I see as a monologizing culture or narcissistic elements in my past with upbringing and otherwise, was almost going to the other end of the spectrum where I just thought it’s got to be this huge generosity, almost like an obliteration of self and pros and cons to that obliteration.
However, what I’m realizing is it’s still a repartee, it’s still a back and forth. There’s a receiving in terms of whatever juncture that they’re at in their development. I can do things like offer them things that I never received or leave space for feelings that I was told weren’t allowed, things like anger and sadness and fear, specifically those three were a big, big no-no. They continue to be a no-no and definitely in American culture, we’re very, very mental and academic and sports in general here. Those of us who are oriented toward the more mercurial feelings, sensuality, allowing flow, trusting flow, trusting life, we’re activists in a way in certain parts of the planet where that’s not normalized.
Thomas: Right, right. It’s beautiful. Where do you feel the difficulties or the struggle came in? Where did you feel that your own past came in when you became a mom and because I think that’s always interesting where the next generation helps us to if we want to, helps us find our own stuff. I often say the parents are the piano and the children are the piano player-
Alanis: Put a hammer.
Yeah, parenting has just opened up a greater empathy and attunement. There’s parts within that I have my capital S self has not been attuned to in here, so almost watching the way I’m attuned to my children as a model for how I can also apply it in here, there has been an outward orientation in my life, partly temperamentally part survival strategy, but my attunement with my children has informed the grace and the space and the opening that can happen with that version of attunement, emotionally, intellectually, all of it, so I attempt to apply that with my own self.
But also, some insights with trauma and just with life in general and perimenopause, the memory isn’t always there for me, but it’s definitely implicit, explicit. It’s in this body. When I see my beautiful child be six months old, two years old, eight years old, it’s almost like an honoring of that stage of development and there’s no way around the humanity part, the exhaustion, the irritability, the triggering, the I’m going to table this triggering with my child and process it later.
There’s just such a beautiful, messy humanity inside of parenting for me anyway. As long as I have some time to process it, I’m fine. If I have to overly contain, which sometimes happens, I start wanting to eat my own hand.
Thomas: That’s beautiful and you also speaking, first of all, I love how openly you speak about it. I think it sounds to me very transparent and honest, and I think that’s exactly, I think what many parents need to hear, that it’s not the clean process. It’s a messy process sometimes, but we need to sign up to process it at a certain time, even if it’s not possible. Sometimes, even that it’s not possible also stretches our ego boundaries and we need to be bigger than what we are going through and that’s actually good. It matures us, it’s lovely.
Alanis: It builds that resiliency and that capacity to be able to table things and contain and these are all superpower abilities.
Thomas: Yeah, exactly. Beautiful. But thank you for speaking to it because I think sometimes as parents, we come into this perfectionism or I think, how do I do it right. Sometimes, we simply don’t get it right, but we are willing to learn. I think that’s really important.
Alanis: Yeah, I’m subject to the exact same thing. Basically my biggest prayer that I often say is, let me do right by my children, let me not fail them in the fill in the blank area, academically, emotionally, linguistically. Let me not fail them.
The last few days I’ve just been thinking, is there a positive way to frame that: thank you for allowing me to show up for them in the ways that I do and when I can’t and don’t. Thanks for the grace of allowing for my humanity and all that. But it looks different every moment and the subtle nuances of what each moment asks of us and have we slept, have we eaten well, how are the nutrients, how’s the sunlight in the eyes. For me, I’m hyper attuned to everything around me, so sometimes, I have to close my eyes to not get overstimulated because I have another three hours left with one of my children. It’s managing energy too. It’s not just time management, it’s managing energy.
For me, before children, I had the invincibility thought, I would just white-knuckle through everything. There was a counterphobia and I think that speaks to how I could continue in a very extroverted environment as an introvert, was that I built this survival mechanism of counterphobia. If I was terrified that I would lean toward it and that’s an orientation. Some of it is a survival strategy, but some of it is also just a personal orientation.
I was the kind of person that someone would ask for a volunteer and before I heard the details of what was being asked, I’d have my hand up right away and I’d think, “What am I doing?” That helped, but then it was hard on the body and I would do the sort of predictable requisite thing to survive it. I’ve played with all kinds of versions of attempting to regulate through alcohol, through all kinds of medicatings, to attempt to try to fit into an extroverted, patriarchal environment. It would work as addictions do. They work for the first 12 minutes quick gloriously, and then you’re on the road to death and despair and decay.
I’ve looked at how can I regulate, how can I be responsible for a general sense of a regulation orientation life, and that’s been really helpful.
Thomas: Beautiful, beautiful. We talked about more the personal dimension of it and now, since this is also a Collective Trauma Summit, and I think we are all living in a world that was already traumatized before we landed here, and now, we are dealing with mess all the time. Our summit’s theme this year is how to create a global healing movement because collective trauma can’t be healed by one person, it needs to be healed through us and I think there are many ways.
I’m curious when you hear collective healing or creating a movement to heal collectively and also tend to the big topics that are coming up in our societies at the moment, democracy is a threatened climate change, refugees, colonialism, racism, you name it, gender violence, how can we navigate in this world and maybe since your music is very strong, how can art and music be a part of a collective healing movement? If there’s anything that comes up, so please share.
Alanis: One of them is that we live in cultures, especially in America that tell us we can’t feel. The indoctrination of that messaging stops the natural flow and current and movement that is within us all. There’s more than anybody – We’re not just matter, we’re not just dense bodies, meat packets, although that’s fun. To realize that collectively, that we are united and interconnected and that the micro is the macro. What’s happening in my living room is happening between nations and we’re taught so many things. These aren’t things that I think are innate to us, we’re taught competition. I’m noticing it from a very young age, us against them, better than worse than, there’s these very basic messages that are sent to us from pre-verbal times and as part of our legacy, as part of our all the way back to our ancestors, these lies basically these deep untruths.
For anyone to behave in a counter animal way, what I tell my children is the difference between animals and I live for animals, the difference between animals and us is we have this frontal cortex that can have us say, “Okay, so on an animal level I want to punch you in the face or blow your head off because I’m filled with rage,” but my frontal cortex will say, “But that may not help in the big picture and allowing for the feeling.” It’s not like we’re spiritually bypassing and saying, “Well, I just want to zen out,” allowing the anger to be what it is and there’s ways to move anger for me through art, through movement, through sports, through verbal linguistic venting, the sacred act of a friend or a colleague or a therapist holding space for someone to move that energy so that it doesn’t have to act out over here, anything we sublimate beach ball under the water will pop out.
I think anger gets such a bad reputation because what we relate it to is the destructive acting out of anger versus the gorgeous anger itself. Anger can help activism, anger can help heal collective trauma if we allow it to fuel us but when we think of anger, we think of the destructive acting out of anger, and so it gets this bad rep, but at the same time, it’s sublimating it even more and perpetuating the cycle of the acting out of anger, and that there’s this big scarcity mindset that there’s only one throne. However many, seven point some billion odd people on this planet, that’s how many thrones there are.
Flipping the scarcity mindset, realizing that you can be across from someone versus above them or below them to counter the indoctrinating messages that we get day in and day out from ads to TikTok, everywhere you look, these messagings are there. To be discerning and to listen to them with a discerning mind and an open heart and an open mind, that’s why I think the philosopher archetype will be a big part of this collective trauma healing because for those of us to think about something and slowing down to move fast, slowing things down and really looking at them and taking the time to see whether it’s actually true.
For me, when you say healing collective trauma together, the giant we is the truth. There’s this big impetus on autonomy and let’s teach our children to be independent. I’m like, “Okay,” but ultimately, the grace and the ultimate teaching in my mind would be how do we teach each other as children or otherwise in these educational environments, interdependence because we are a we, which we are, how do we teach grace, how do we teach tolerance of someone else’s perspective that maybe clashes with yours, how do we do conflict resolution that allows us to continue to define ourselves uniquely, how can we have these individuated stories while keeping in mind at the fore that we’re still one?
It’s that beautiful balance of realizing that we are individual, unique, localized interpretations of reality are worldviews or multitudeness and singular and individuated, but ultimately connected. The highest truth is our connection and then the individuated, and egoic, day-to-day mundane stuff is almost like the playground. But whenever I forget that connection or that sense of oneness, that is hell.
My son asked me the other day if I believe in heaven and hell, and I said yes. Hell is on earth when we feel disconnected. We’re actually not disconnected. But when the felt sense in the body of disconnection happens, that is a pure living day-to-day hell.
Thomas: Probably said so many things and amazing things right now in one go. Maybe you can just wind back for a moment to interdependence because I think that’s such an important and essential principle. Can you speak a little bit how can we imagine interdependence, what does that mean? What is interdependence when we’re in life, how does this work?
Alanis: Yeah, okay. The general messaging is this individual or bust, and on some level that’s gorgeous. I know that that person loves yellow and that person loves green and this person lives for orange, and that part’s interesting. To have some sort of neutrality and perceiving other people as different snowflakes falling out of the same cloud or the beautiful metaphors of the raindrop from the ocean, don’t forget the ocean and enjoy the raindrop, enjoy your dropfullness, but never forget that you’re part of the ocean. But a lot of people feel because of the scarcity that my way is the way and then we get locked into that and then there’s this.
But your question was about interdependence, to be taught that leaning on each other. We’re relational creatures. We die without each other. We literally die as a baby. Babies die if they don’t have that interaction. We’re built to need each other. We’re built to lean on each other. When we have this on we or avoidance style of interaction, that’s not actually… A lot of people value when someone can let things roll off their back, and if it’s temperamentally, they’re predisposed to that, that’s lovely.
But for the most part, we’re taught that it’s safest to be needless, wantless, I won’t get hurt, not going to rely on you. We’re taught a lot and there’s this big autonomous movement that’s been happening for a lot of years and I see us, you, Dan Siegel, me, hundreds of us, thousands of us are moving toward the awareness of how do we practically apply the we that there is an individual inside here and we can be traumatized. A lot of people are like, “You have to love yourself first before you can be in a relationship.” I don’t entirely agree with that. I think tons of us traumatized people can absolutely function in a relationship, and there’s just more challenges within them and more work to do, quote-unquote.
Even in the education of this obsession with teaching kids how to be independent, my orientation is teaching us how to be graceful in our interdependence. Sometimes, I’ll come home and I have a lot that I want to process and my husband doesn’t have it in him in that moment. In that moment, I’ll choose to be independent or I’ll go elsewhere or I’ll journal or I’ll wait to process in the we.
In some ways, there was a movement of individual work is everything, and then the couples therapeutic world was it’s all about couples. For me, it’s just both. Doing the internal work on my own with all my parts, plenty of activity, and then bringing that to other…
A lot of people interpret the word independence as fostering a neediness as though that’s a bad thing. I think what they might be specifically alluding to is the idea that we don’t want to ultimately bring our parts to someone and go, “Here, this is your problem now.” In that sense, we want to have some kind of agency and ownership over, I’d like you to help me with this part that was sexually abused, or I’d like you to help me if you’re up for it with this part that can’t make a decision about something, so there’s the interdependence and the vulnerability. But if that person doesn’t have the bandwidth or they’re just not in the mood or whatever it is, then you can go to the independence of… It’s still relational though, because inside here there’s so many relationships.
To speak, to what I touched on earlier, my three priorities are the connection first, the three trio connections, second is the self-expression, and then the third is somatic, so being in the body while we’re here because we might as well. I’m excited about the whole biohacking world and longevity conversations and it’s all quite exciting to me, the idea of staying around as long as we can because for a long time, I didn’t want to be around. I’ve struggled with depression and had postpartum depression three times with my children. The idea of really wanting to be here has me super lit up now. I’m like, “Yeah, I want to be here. This is great.”
Thomas: Yeah, that’s beautiful. First of all, it’s so lovely to listen to you. It’s so eloquent and flowing, and there’s so many deep aspects inside that we could all dive into that I resonate very much with obviously.
But just coming back to that interdependence, when you play your music and when you are in front of or with many people, how do these moments contribute or might be part of some collective healing space? Because I think something like the coherence that’s being developed through music and the deep relationships and relationality that’s happening there is I think extraordinary. It’s actually an amazing chance, and I would love to hear how you see those moments and healing and maybe collective healing partnering or being happening in that moment.
Alanis: Yes. Well, it is a dialogue energetically, so there is so much love in the room. There’s an invitation, as I mentioned earlier, there’s a permission, although, no one needs permission from me, but there is a collective permission for our humanity. In my personal case, when I’m singing about all these colors of what it is to be human and touching on them all equally, really, it sends the message in the room or the venue or the amphitheater that our humanity is welcome here and I’m going to physicalize it, I’m going to move it, I’m going to resonate musically, that beautiful universal language of art and music, I weep. It’s the greatest.
It is a dialogue because I had no interest really in kind of going around the planet monologizing to people. That’s not really that inspiring to me. I’m more of a dialoguer, so in some ways I really rely on the energy in the room. I watch people, I’ll watch the mirror neurons happening, the celebration, the sense of freedom in that moment. If I can do it, if I can move like this, if I can sweat, if I can emote, if I can physicalize or exaggerate or contain, all of these artistic moments of expression through physical, through visual, through all the senses, it’s basically giving a green light and an invitation for all of us to do it. I’m aware of that, and that’s why I keep doing it.
Thomas: That’s amazing. I also think that the coherence that gets built is very powerful. I think there’s something to this moment when we are all so connected or we feel how connected we actually are, because we are always connected, as you said before, it just sometimes feel very separate, but that’s happening all the time.
I think there’s something very powerful as an example of how the world actually is also, even if you don’t see it all the time and those moments, actually, I think the coherence has a very strong healing power also for people and just being in that experience and taking that home and remembering it, I think is a powerful moment.
Alanis: Yes, coherence, resonance and how that feels in the body and if it feels how it does in the body, even just talking about it with you, I feel it. I love what you just said, bringing that home and having it as a reference, not a way to beat oneself up if we’re not feeling it, but knowing that it’s possible. I love that critical mass is such a small number in terms of healing collective trauma. Critical mass is tiny, I think it’s 1.5% of us or something and that small part of the bell-shaped curve, those of us who shall inherit the Earth, I think enough of us understand coherence, understand resonance, understand what’s possible in human bodies here and to the degree that I can just say, yay, support, champion, facilitate all of us doing that and continuing to do it, and certainly, my continuing to do it. That’s what I feel I was born to do. It’s the greatest.
Thomas: That’s amazing. That’s also a very powerful sentence that you can say, I feel that I was born to do that. That’s a powerful sentence. There’s also a strong commitment to be here to say, “I’m here for that.” That has a strong, grounded message. It gives us also, you transmit us to me now when I talk to you, I feel it and also, I’m sure everybody who’s listening to us that there is a powerful commitment to life in finding out what I’m here for.
Maybe you can speak a little bit to that because sometimes also spirituality is being practiced as a way out of a suffering world instead of into a suffering world and the power that it unleashes to really want to be committed to our world in the beauty and celebration as you spoke about, but also in the pain-
Thomas: … This is a painful place and how can we practice our spiritual practice that gets us here to that commitment and I want to serve this world. I want to give to this world. When you said it, it reminded me of a very strong commitment. It resonated for me as a commitment to be here. Whatever comes up in you, when I say that.
Alanis: A lot of things, it’s like 17 rabbit holes.
The commitment to be here and the sense of purpose. It can be challenging for some of us when someone says, “Well, once you know your purpose, it’ll get a lot easier.”
When we’ve been taught and basically brainwashed into thinking, there is one thing for you to do. You come from a long line of doctors, so young woman, you’re going to be a doctor, you’re going to follow in the family footsteps. On one level, if that’s inspiring for someone, great but so many of us get locked into the day-to-day mundane of, “I chose this career, I’m going to stay in it for 37, 49 years.”
What’s happening now, and even in the nineties, I could really feel this, stay in your lane, stay singular, and on some level, focus does yield and I live for that, it’s true.
However, for those of us who are multitudinous, good luck being one thing. What’s wonderful about 2023 is that there’s more room for multitudinous now, which is…
For me too, when someone’s looking for this felt sense of purpose, it is so nuanced because for me, it’s neurochemical, it’s biochemical, it’s hormones, it’s food, it’s sleep, it is their community. We live in this podful world now where village is not normalized. Although, I really feel amongst all my friends in my micro world that there’s this yearning for villagefulness again, and do we have to be cultural rebels in order to achieve that kind of birthright of having a sense of village.
I was in Fiji walking down the street, and these two precious seven year old boys had their arms around each other walking down the street. I was chatting with them and I said, “Well, where are your grandparents?” Their answer was this. I just thought, “Oh, that’s amazing.” They just trust that there are aunts and uncles and grandparents and elders and friends and siblings. They’re just everywhere. It’s almost like you’re in a seat in that place where you can make choices because there’s a generalized regulatory approach. We lean on each other, and if mom’s beleaguered and exhausted, then you got your aunt. But nowadays, we live in these pods.
There is a general suffering and ache just as an undercurrent to the fact that how we’re living and how our day-to-day worlds unfold is counter to what our bodies and our souls ultimately need. How to continue to cultivate community is a big deal and it sounds like that’s at the epicenter of many of your missions, but I don’t know if that’s to what you just asked.
Thomas: Yeah, let’s leave it here.
But when we talk about this culture, there’s something grounding in finding our mission, even if it’s multiple things that inspire our mission. There’s something about committing to life and be of service in this world instead of trying to get out of this world. You can transcend it, but still be very committed to life.
I’m curious, in your own journey, how important was the dimension of your body? Your embodiment, you spoke a bit about it already, but I want to hear a little bit more from how you experienced the importance of healing your own trauma through your body because I think there is an importance. I’m curious, your experience. When we go deeper through our body and we look at the duality that we find, even in the whole climate change conversation, the human and the planet are often two. I’m wondering about this duality, where nature is not around us, it’s through us. I’m also nature. How is embodiment, nature and this split that we often experience often hear about, or that this kind of mainstream culture is the people on the planet versus we are the planet. I think that’s for our time an important, I don’t know, restoration process to change and to see the duality and change it. I’m curious, your healing body, nature, whatever you feel.
Alanis: Yeah, it’s funny how so many of us need science to corroborate what so many of us also already know. We’re all biochemically amoeba-ish made up of the same thing in all galaxies, every plant, every root, every bug that we’re all made of the same stuff and that we’re densified into these seemingly individualized separate.
On a spiritual level, and again, I’m going to talk about the West, which has infiltrated all pieces of the planet, we have this messaging that we’re separate and it is the pain. When Buddhism talks about life is suffering, it talks about the individuated, dualistic life. To some degree, it’s fun. When I’m doing a sauna or a cold plunge, I’m like, “There’s hot, there’s cold, there’s the dualism.” It’s like a playground of color, but it’s still a playground, it’s still an illusion, it’s still not actually the truth of the science or the spirit that we are. Unfortunately, we live in a culture right now, not in all places on the planet, but generally in North America, there’s this bereftness of a sense of spirit.
Even some of the disparaging words that are used like woo woo, it breaks my heart because I just think…
But this is who we are. This is the platform. This is the oneness. The individuation or the separation or the dualism is here for fun and felt sense experience, but it’s still an illusion.
That may not make sense to some people, and it didn’t make sense to me for a long time. But the body, when I first started doing somatic work and really healing my dissociation and coming back into this body very slowly, and I used to think, “Why is this work so slow? Why are we going so slow?” Because the staying quick and rushed and hurried beautiful book called the Hurried Child keeps us out of our bodies, it keeps us in the pervasive messaging of work addiction is the only way.
Coming back into the body for me has been a very slow, protracted, beautiful experience because it allows me to be hyper present. At first, I thought, “Why would I want to describe this knot in my chest or the red hot heat in my jaw? Why would anyone care? Why would I want to exaggerate a movement?” The more of this internal somatic embodying work that I’ve done, it brings me to the realization of what you just said, which is that when I am in here, I feel connected to all. That doesn’t mean I’m not a murderous, and it doesn’t mean I don’t squish the bug. It’s that I know that I just squished myself. There is the felt sense of connection with nature.
I’ve always noticed that as people get older and their consciousness shifts and things open up, that their relationship with nature becomes more to the center, and there’s a reason for that. There is a flow and an unfoldment of life that is gorgeously neutral in nature. When a plant dies, I don’t think, sometimes the trees grieve, I’m sure, but it’s almost like flow is evident so beautifully in nature and that we’re invited to do the same thing but this fear of thing happens, this fear of death, ultimately fear of the cycle, fear of the body ending.
But the dualism, we take it so seriously. We take individuation so seriously, and the us against them will be our downfall because it’s also us against Earth, us against that political party, us against that gender, us against the age group, that skin color, that way of life, that way they dress. These are all personal self expressions, and that’s why self-expression is so important to me, whether it’s through art, photography, conversation, going within, all the etheric body, the causal body, all this energetic awareness, the more self-knowledge, the more knowledge that I’ve accrued, the simpler things have gotten for me.
More to say, but for now…
Thomas: Yeah, that’s also very powerful, just what you said at the end, there’s many powerful things.
But it touches me what you said is because first of all, it resonates very strongly with my own experience, the more we know, or it’s not only intellectual knowing, the more we dive deeper into ourselves, actually, the world becomes more simple. We are able to host more of the complexity, and then, it becomes simplicity. It’s something more overwhelming, more world can land in us, so it’s less threatening, it’s less overwhelming. It’s more-
Alanis: Less triggering, right?
Thomas: Yeah, less triggering, more flow.
Alanis: There’s quality of listening that we can offer. You’re offering it to me right now but there’s a spaciousness that we can offer each other when we’ve met those places in us.
As an example, your fear or your rage or your passion or your excitement, it’s just a yes, because I’ve felt it myself, my own personalized version of it but wherever I look, I notice where I have resistance. That’s an indication, that’s a portal for me, an inquiry portal of, “Oh, I noticed I was resistant to that,” so there’s something in here for me to soften it and neutralize it.
Thomas: That’s another very powerful thing you said now, because that’s a lovely indicator for, when people say, “Okay, but what should I look at or where should I work on myself?” It’s exactly these moments with what you said just now. When I feel resistance that I don’t judge it, but I’m going to look at it because otherwise, I repeat it and that’s really beautiful.
Also what you said about, okay, then more of the world can flow through us, I think then we can hold more space and we become naturally ecosystemic. The more you grow naturally, you don’t have to become ecosystemic, you’re naturally becoming it through your maturation, and that’s what you naturally become, so there’s no effort. It’s not a career. It’s a consequence of a deep path-
Alanis: Growing awareness of that inextricable link.
Thomas: Exactly, the growing awareness.
It’s beautiful because I think for when I listen to you, because you’re so openly sharing about your own path, it’s a true invitation for everybody to… Of course, with a different life story. But some of the principles you shared with us are very deep and they’re universally true, and then they become specific, but they’re universally true and I think when we listen to your path, and it also means that your development allows you to speak freely about your own journey.
Alanis: Yes, less shame about the humanity. I have a lot of shame, don’t get me wrong, but the less shame I have, the more I can soften that, the more room there is for someone to process something.
There are times where people say things that I notice inner resistance, but for the most part when I’m listening, I’m just relating and ultimately holding space when I can. Sometimes with my husband, I’m not able to do that, but that’s…
Thomas: Right. I want to round up our conversation, given the time, so I don’t take too much of your time, but the one thing is also that I believe the integration that you went through, especially also standing a lot in the public space, I think is also enhancing a transmission and the congruency that you transmit together with your music into the audience. The more fragmented we are, we transmit fragmentation, but the more integrated we are, we also transmit more integration.
It’s lovely for me to hear that as an artist in the public space, you’re putting the energy into your own work because I believe it reaches invisibly also many people. It’s ecosystemically working just because you do what you do.
Alanis: Yes, and that resilience is possible. When I first started doing this work of coming back into the body and really living, the felt sense of non-dualism and what does that even mean and how do I access it, and all these really fun questions. The more I’ve been living it, just the more space there is, and I think when there is space, when there is love and neutrality, that’s the truth. The truth for me is found in that stillness and in that sense of connection.
As a child, I used to equate that the intensity of intimacy, I always think the [inaudible 00:47:33] shy, but that intensity is just intensity. Doesn’t mean something bad is going to happen, doesn’t mean that this eye contact is going to turn into a predatorial thing, it doesn’t mean that something wrong is happening, it just means that it’s intense. It’s intense intimacy, it’s intense to connect. It’s a felt sense of sparkliness and intensity and that that can just be what it is because the invitation can feel terrifying.
Fear of death, fear of obliteration, annihilation, fear of being hurt, fear of pain, felt sense of pain, all these make perfect sense to the human being, and then these little risks are what I’m encouraging my own self to do that the risks don’t have to be these quantums. They can be tiny little risks every day, and it just opens up the space you spoke of being able to look at someone and hold space for the wholeness of who they are. It doesn’t mean we don’t have boundaries with certain behaviors. I think that’s really important, but it does mean that there’s at least space left for all of our humanities.
Thomas: You said something beautiful, let’s do the step that we can do and not the one that we want to do, but we will never do. Let’s do the next step that is a bit risky, and you also said, but we have to risk something. It’s also powerful.
Alanis: The little risks are huge.
Thomas: The little risks are huge. Otherwise, we stay our used self, the self that we are used to. But if you risk things, so we constantly open up and we invite change into our lives.
Alanis: Circling all the way back to the sense of purpose, every little risk informs and can really concretize in the best way that sense of purpose. Now, the forms that they take who knows, we’ll see, but the purpose of showing up and offering something, and it could be simple. It doesn’t have to be I’m here to save the planet. Whenever there’s this sort of Messianic mission, I just go, “Oh, I don’t know. How about let’s make it smaller? Let’s make it more real.” Maybe I’m coming into this room to offer listening, let’s keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be I’m coming into this world to change and uplift. That’s beautiful, but also, keeping it really minutiae and an intimate, are we coming in this room to offer what? Just pick anything, offer humor, offer a smile, make it really simple, and then, it feels more doable rather than some huge overarching Messianic mission, which is almost impossible as we know.
Thomas: I think you as a musician know this best like music, it’s not being done by one, it’s being done by an orchestra and when we all learn to be part of an orchestra to play together, that’s what we… Your life, my life, many people’s lives together create the change, and that’s why we also look a lot at the collective movement.
Maybe just the last question, if there’s anything that we didn’t speak about that you think is important or is maybe at the leading edge of your own development at the moment or your passion at about, and to give it to our listeners, so please.
Alanis: Yeah, 6 trillion things, and I have so many questions for you, so maybe I could have the honor of switching tables at some point.
But for me, I’m such a feeling person. I feel very deeply, and I used to have great shame about that, and Lord knows was dumped many times for it, and people would move away from it because we just get the general message that feeling is scary. But even with my children, if my daughter’s crying, letting her cry all the way through, and if we cut it off at 20% or of in the case, 2% for convenience’s sake. “I’m embarrassed, we’re in a public place, stop crying,” but if we let the a hundred percent of the cry move through the body, there is this grace at the end. It’s almost like a full cleanse, whether it’s anger or sadness or terror even.
Terror, I’ve been working a lot with my own terror because I’ve had anxiety and depression stuff my whole life, so looking at terror and actually feeling it versus I got to pop a pill, which of course, makes sense that one would want to regulate in the face of a panic attack or otherwise, but allowing the feelings certainly lovely to do with other, but even when we’re alone, to be able to mark and notice the movement of what terror feels like when it’s completed, for lack of a better term, or the sadness or the joy or the anger, really letting it move through is really what I’m looking at with my children and with my own self and there’s context. Maybe don’t do it on the airplane, maybe don’t rage out on the airplane, but maybe do it when you land somewhere in a bathroom stall or something. But moving the energy all the way through to its completion and then noticing what’s there is one of 6 trillion things we could [inaudible 00:52:36].
Thomas: That’s amazing. It really touches me also the beauty of how you speak as a parent, that your own limitation to not be able to contain the emotions of your child, how you expand that more and more so that you don’t pass on the same limitation to the next generation. It’s beautiful. To be able to be part of the whole arc of an emotional expression, that’s very beautiful. Thank you for that. That touches me. It’s beautiful.
Yeah, fantastic. I could go on for hours. I have so much in resonance with you, and I love your expression, and it’s so full of energy and eloquence and beauty and depth, so thank you so much for this. I feel very energized now and I feel-
Alanis: Oh, good.
Thomas: Yeah, it’s a lovely time. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you for being part of this here. It was a great joy. It was a great joy. Thank you.
Alanis: Thank you.