June 4, 2013

Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday Series

Posted in Experiences, Inspiring Stories, Philosophers, Science and Relgion, The Mystics, Theologians tagged , at 7:51 pm by tiffanyannbrown

It’s been nearly two years since I last wrote a post on this blog – hard to believe. Around the time I wrote my last post, I recall that Oprah was just getting ready to launch the first episode of her new self-help and spirituality series known as “Super Soul Sunday,” which premiered on the OWN Network back in October of 2011. At the time, I had been listening to her Soul Series podcast on iTunes and thinking about how neat it was that Oprah was giving some air time to such interesting and progressive thinkers as Eckhardt Tolle and Jill Bolte Taylor. But I didn’t realize how soon she would be taking everything so mainstream (and to her credit, for these are important topics).

As might be expected from any modern day media mogul, in approximately two years time, the original podcast has extended into an extremely popular TV series supported by a flashy web site that includes a blog and catalog of videos, which has also led to a strong social media following with nearly 50,000 followers on @SuperSoulSunday’s Twitter account and 119,000 likes on the Facebook page. She also has a great list of books that have been featured on the series, which you can explore in more detail here.

Super Soul Sunday FB

According to a recent press release about the series, Super Soul Sunday features exclusive interviews and all-new conversations with top thinkers, authors, filmmakers and spiritual leaders. Exploring themes and issues including happiness, personal fulfillment, wellness, spirituality and conscious living, Super Soul Sunday presents an array of perspectives on what it means to be alive in today’s world.

If you haven’t had the chance to check out the show yet, I highly recommend that you do. As of today Oprah has hosted dozens of speakers on her series, people I originally first heard about mainly through Tami Simon’s “Insights at the Edge” podcast and other non-traditional avenues like the Omega Institute and the Institute of Noetic Sciences. The discussions she hosts not only raise important questions and new ways of thinking about the world, but bring certain well-accomplished, lesser known, and thoroughly inspiring individuals to the forefront of mainstream dialogue.


August 25, 2011

Insights at the Edge

Posted in Experiences, Inspiring Stories, Science and Relgion, The Mystics tagged , at 11:31 pm by tiffanyannbrown

Earlier this year I came across a goldmine of content when I happened upon the web site located at www.soundstrue.com. While searching for podcasts related to school assignments on iTunes, I stumbled upon some episodes of “Insights at the Edge” with Tami Simon that caught my attention and eventually found a link that provided dozens of free podcasts showcasing some of the world’s foremost authorities on the topics of health and healing, self-empowerment, and spirituality and consciousness. According to the web site:

Sounds True is an independent multimedia publishing company that embraces the world’s major spiritual traditions, as well as the arts and humanities … Sounds True was founded in 1985 by Tami Simon with a clear mission: to disseminate spiritual wisdom. It is in this spirit that we present this podcast, a series of interviews with the world’s leading spiritual teachers, visionary writers, and living luminaries about their newest work and current challenges—the “growing edge” of their inner inquiry and outer contribution to the world.”

Whether it be driving to and from work, running errands, shopping at the grocery store, or on a walk, I’ve managed to log countless hours of listening to these thoroughly introspective and addicting interviews.

Some of the aspects I have most enjoyed about Insights at the Edge have included the caliber of the speakers, the quality of the discussions, and the range of content. While some interviews focus on more practical subjects, others can be highly obscure and complex, bordering on the realm of “out there,” but Tami always has a way of bringing the conversation back to a level of common understanding. Never have I come across such a wide range of specialists, spanning so many disciplines, providing such an array of provocative thinking in one place.

In addition to interviews with such speakers (that I already know and love!) as Peter Russell, Bruce Lipton, Stanislov Grof, Gregg Braden, and Fred Wolf, below is a sampling of some new individuals I came across through this show and would like to hear more from in the future:

  1. Ken Wilber – Ken Wilber is the author of over a dozen books, including The Spectrum of Consciousness; Up from Eden; and Grace and Grit. The Spectrum of Consciousness, written when he was twenty-three years old, established him as perhaps the most comprehensive philosophical thinker of our times. Credited with developing a unified field theory of consciousness—a synthesis and interpretation of the world’s great psychological, philosophical, and spiritual traditions—Ken Wilber is the most cogent and penetrating voice in the recent emergence of a uniquely American wisdom.
  2. Caroline Myss is a five-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally renowned speaker in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy medicine, and the science of medical intuition. After completing her Master’s degree, Caroline co-founded Stillpoint Publishing and headed the editorial department, producing an average of ten books a year in the field of human consciousness and holistic health.  Caroline developed the field of Energy Anatomy, a science that correlates specific emotional/psychological/physical/spiritual stress patterns with diseases.
  3. Sandra Ingerman – Sandra Ingerman, MA, is the author of eight books including Soul Retrieval, Medicine for the Earth, Shamanic Journeying: A Beginner’s Guide and How to Heal Toxic Thoughts. Sandra is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist and Professional Mental Health Counselor. She is also a board certified expert on traumatic stress as well as certified in acute traumatic stress management.
  4. Anodea Judith, Ph.D. is the founder and director of Sacred Centers, and a groundbreaking thinker, writer, and spiritual teacher. Her passion for the realization of untapped human potential matches her concern for humanity’s impending crises — her fervent wish is that we “wake up in time.” She holds Masters and Doctoral degrees in Psychology and Human Health, is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher, with lifelong studies of healing, mythology, history, sociology, systems theory, and mystic spirituality. She is considered one of the country’s foremost experts on the combination of chakras and therapeutic issues and on the interpretation of the Chakra System for the Western lifestyle.
  5. William Buhlman – William Buhlman is America’s leading expert on out-of-body experiences. The author’s four decades of extensive personal out-of-body explorations give him a unique and thought provoking insight into this subject.

While it’s important to take each interview with a grain of salt, there is always wisdom to be uncovered and connections to be made when listening to new and engaging perspectives. What have you got to lose?

December 30, 2010

Through the Eyes of a Mystic

Posted in Poets, Science and Relgion, The Mystics tagged , at 7:09 am by tiffanyannbrown

Mysticism is nearly universal and unites most religions in the quest for divinity. According to Wikipedia, mysticism is defined as “the pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight.” It is derived from the Greek word “mystikos” meaning “an initiate of a mystery religion,” which is in reference to the classical Greco-Roman mystery cults where initiates were sworn to keep secret about the inner workings of religion that they were privy to.

There are many famous mystics in our culture you may have heard about including American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho, and Beatles guitarist George Harrison, but perhaps none so intriguing as Lithuanian child prodigy Akiane Kramarik who began painting remarkable artwork at the age of 4 and attributes her talent to divine inspiration from God:

Currently at 16 years of age, Akiane has been featured on nearly 50 international television shows and documentaries including Oprah, CNN, Good Morning America, The View, and the Montel Williams Show. According to her web site at www.artakiane.com, she has published over 200 works of art, 800 literary creations and 2 best-selling books. Click here to view her gallery of artwork, where prints range in price from $5,000 to $3,000,000, or you can click here to view her poetry. I would suggest taking some time to browse through her paintings and skim through the narratives that go along with each of them. Akiane donates a large percentage of her income back to charity, and her goal with each painting is always the same: to serve as an inspiration for others, provide hope, and to share her love for God with people around the world.

Below is a more recent, longer video of Akiane explaining her artistic processes and the guidance she receives, providing a deeper  level of insight into her world. It is interesting to note that she was brought up in an atheistic household with no introduction to religion, limited access to the media (she didn’t even know who Oprah was when she went on her show at age 9), and was homeschooled.

In the book From Science to God, author Peter Russell argues that science is just beginning to understand and uncover what mystics have known for centuries; he believes that science will soon confirm what the mystics have been saying all along bridging the age-old gap between science and religion. He writes:

The worldviews of science and spirit have not always been as far apart as they are today. Five hundred years ago, there was little difference between them. What science there was existed within the established worldview of the Christian church. Following Copernicus, Descartes and Newton, Western science broke away from the doctrines of monotheistic religion, establishing its own atheistic worldview, which today is now very different indeed from that of traditional religion. But the two can, and I believe eventually will, be reunited. And their meeting point is consciousness. When science sees consciousness to be a fundamental quality of reality, and when religion takes God to be the light of consciousness shining within us all, the two worldviews start to converge.

Peter Russell earned degrees in both physics and experimental psychology from the University of Cambridge, England and also holds a postgraduate degree in computer science. He studied meditation and Eastern philosophy in India, and upon his return conducted research into the neurophysiology of meditation at the University of Bristol. Over the past twenty years, he has been a consultant to IBM, Apple, American Express, Barclays Bank, Swedish Telecom, Nike, Shell, BP, and other major corporations. Some of his books include The Global Brain, Waking Up in Time, and The Consciousness Revolution.  He certainly brings a unique perspective to the topic of mysticism given his scientific background. To listen to some of his talks online at www.peterrussell.com, click here.  For a brief video of his on the primacy consciousness, see below:

Peter Russell is considered to be one of the foremost authorities on the topic of consciousness today. He believes that consciousness does not arise from matter and that modern science has been unable to address the deeper, more fundamental questions that mystics have been understanding for centuries. Moving forward, it will be interesting to keep an eye on both Akiane and Peter, to see what insights and discoveries will be made on both the levels of mysticism and science in our 21st century society.

December 27, 2010

Non-Rational Ways of Knowing

Posted in The Mystics tagged , at 9:21 pm by tiffanyannbrown

One of my favorite books to-date has been German Lutheran theologian and scholar of comparative religion Rudolph Otto’s The Idea of the Holy.  The book defines the concept of the holy as that which is numinous. Otto explained the  numinous as a “non-rational, non-sensory experience or feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self.” Originally published in 1917, I love the book because the author captures complex, hard-to-describe ideas in beautifully written—though difficult to digest—language. It’s the type of book you need to sit down and get comfortable with … steaming hot beverage in one hand, writing tool in the other.

A central idea in the book is the concept of “mysterium tremendum,” which is Otto’s attempt at describing the feeling that one experiences when enduring an encounter with “the holy.” Whether it be that heavy, looming feeling of something sitting right on top of your chest in a quiet room, or a peaceful wave of calm while enjoying a particular scene in nature – the feeling is not one to be denied. He writes:

We are dealing with something for which there is only one appropriate expression, ‘mysterium tremendum’. The feeling of it may at times come sweeping like a gentle tide, pervading the mind with a tranquil mood of deepest worship. It may pass over into a more set and lasting attitude of the soul, continuing, as it were, thrillingly vibrant and resonant, until at last it dies away and the soul resumes its ‘profane’, nonreligious mood of everyday experience. It may burst in sudden eruption up from the depths of the soul with spasms and convulsions, or lead to the strangest excitements, to intoxicated frenzy, to transport, and to ecstasy. It has its wild and demonic forms and can sink to an almost gristly horror and shuddering. It has its crude, barbaric antecedents and early manifestations, and again it may be developed into something beautiful and pure and glorious. It may become the hushed, trembling, and speechless humility of the creature in the presence of–whom or what? In the presence of that which is a mystery inexpressible and above all creatures.

Around the time I first read this book I made an interesting connection. While listening to a song called “Reflection” by the band Tool, I realized that the lyrics of the song were reflecting upon none other than a mystical experience with countless direct ties (almost line for line) to ideas that were touched upon in the book. It wasn’t a few days later that I picked up a book on Alex Grey at a Barnes and Noble (an artist who did the cover art for the band’s CD) when I noticed that on the inside front cover was a picture of Alex Grey with a copy of The Idea of the Holy sitting on his desk in the background. At that moment the ideas, the artist, and the music came full circle into a picture that more clearly defined the concept for me and also helped me to realize the permeating nature of the topic … the fact that these truths are all around us, but only until we tune into them do we begin to notice or acknowledge that they are there.

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