by Kara-Leah Grant, Musings from the Mat
As I slowly introduce more regular columnists to The Yoga Lunchbox, you’ll be getting to know them via this written interview.
So it’s only fair that I do the interview myself, even though I’ve now been writing my column Musings from the Mat for over three years. Some of you have been here right from the beginning of that journey, so know me well. Very well!
But others have only recently begun reading the website, so this may fill in a few gaps.
Born? Dunedin, New Zealand in the middle of a snow storm. Well, not out in the middle of the storm, inside a ward at Queen Mary Hospital… but it was a-stormin’ alright.
Grew up? Dunedin until I was 4, then Oamaru, before heading back to Dunedin from 12 – 19 years.
Wanted to be? An actress from age 8 – 16… and then an international diplomat, preferably stationed in China. And possibly Prime Minister.
Social clique at school? Nerd. Out and out. Loved school, did well, and didn’t buy into the idea of cliques. Had a habit of getting pissed off when the cool kids picked on the not-so-cool kids and would give them a telling-off.
Hardest thing about being a teenager? Feeling restless and wanting more excitement. Couldn’t wait to get out into the big wide world and find fame and fortune.
Greatest disappointment hitting adulthood? Discovering that adults lied and were self-serving and selfish. I thought that everyone would be loving, supporting and generally good. Totally freaked me out, and had to idea how to deal with it.
Greatest challenge or hardship to date? Two psychotic episodes in 2004 that imploded every aspect of my life. Actually, every aspect of my life was already imploding… the psychosis was just the icing on the cake.
In a former life, this lifetime, you were a…? A go-go dancer in Canadian nightclubs, and at big sporting events. Crazy costumes, crazy-good music, crazy-fun times. Now I just go-go dance in my kitchen while cooking dinner, and before yoga practice in the lounge.
Worth getting out of bed for? This life. I’ve been born into a wonderful family in a magical country at a liberating time for women. More is possible now than it ever has been before, and damned if I’m not going to make the most of every single day.
Worth staying in bed for? A good book and a good man.
Most indulgent pleasure? See above.
Least likely place to find you? In front of a television or at a rugby game. The Rugby World Cup Final? I was in bed, with my laptop, a movie and a book.
Favourite mode of transport? Sailboat. Granted, it’s not a form of transport I use often, but something about being on the water propelled by the wind just feels so right.
Thing you feel guiltiest about? Ouch. Tough question. And I wrote these… A few things spring to mind, actions taken when I really did know better, even back then. I don’t know if it’s guilt so much as regret, for not acting with honour.
Greatest sin (should you care to divulge)? The greatest sin is apparently rejecting God’s love. In many ways, yoga is a journey back into that love. But I don’t know that I ever did reject God’s love. Even as a child I was also in wonder at the world in such a way that I felt the presence of the Divine in all. I’d have to settle for a lesser sin and of those, Lust has definitely been my downfall many a time. See above.
Greatest achievement? Having the courage to face the long road back after experiencing two psychotic episodes in 2004. It took seven years, and a journey deep into the darkness of my psyche, but I never flinched. I can see that now.
Greatest dream? There’s one I had about George Clooney the other night… and then there’s a dream I have of people waking up and living heart-led lives of empowerment that seems to be happening all around me right now.
And going deeper now… what propelled you into practice? Desperation. I was a mess, on all levels, although at the time I didn’t even realise it. Mostly I was seeking connection, to something greater than myself, to something that would bring ease and peace into my heart.
What’s been the biggest surprise or insight into life since you began practicing? Heaven is a place on Earth, not just a Belinda Carlise song. And God wants royalties on that line. Oh wait, God is Belinda Carlise too, as well as you and me. Hmm… maybe the biggest surprise is that practice makes me take myself lightly, and life lightly too.
What’s your area of expertise? Cripes, another tough question! Um… I hesitate to say I have an area of expertise per se. I have been exploring yoga, largely experientially (i.e. with no guidance from a teacher but rather mostly from my own experience), for over ten years now, often with movement and music. This makes sense to me.
I see how the physical practice shifts our experience of consciousness in such a way that we’re able to Witness what we experience with equanimity and in doing so realise that we are not our feelings, nor our thoughts, or even our bodies. Yet I also see how our bodies reflect our psyches, our thoughts and our feelings. They are all mirrors and reflections of each other. As one level shifts and changes, so too does another. And this is what I teach, more or less.
And finally, where’s the world headed and what can we do about it? The world is about what it’s always been I reckon. A shimmering, shifting energy of attention between the material and the spirit.
Our lust, greed, gluttony, sloth, pride, despair and envy are acted out and threaten to destroy us. On the other side, we’re loving, compassionate, kind, peaceful, joyous and delightful.
It’s a dance, where all of us have played both sides, and continue to play both sides.
The more conscious I become, the more respect and love I have for Life, in all it’s glory, and the more I act in congruence with this love and respect for Life. That’s about all I can do. It’s about all any of us can do. With the light win? Can the Light even exist without the darkness? Is it not just seeing the Dance for what it is, being in this world but not of this world?