S1:E11 | Healing From Trauma with Acharya Shunya

Mar 14, 2022

[00:00:47.000]  Welcome Introduction to Acharya Shunya

[00:03:24.520] Acharya Shunya talks about the Vedas & the Self

[00:06:57.140] How bondage and suffering have always been optional

[00:09:49.660] Chasing shadows

[00:12:13.140] Vulnerable and enlightened vulnerability

[00:13:30.620]  We are aching for our own wholeness

[00:15:51.560] Mythology

[00:18:27.830] The Trinity allows for the opposites and something in between

[00:24:21.220] The invisible rope story

[00:35:40.670] Recognising a true guru

[00:40:35.400] Link to Acharya Shunya website


Acharya Shunya Website https://www.acharyashunya.com  




How do you fine tune your body to fine tune your voice to convey what you're you might not understand, but your heart does?

I have been waiting all of my life for Acharya Shunya!

Acharya is a highly sought-after international speaker from Northern India known for her rich insights and empowering personal health, elevating human consciousness.

The first female lineage holder from an ancient line of Vedic spiritual teachers. She was groomed in the study of Vedic scriptures for 14 years by her grandfather and guru and chosen amongst multiple male candidates as the first female spiritual leader of this lineage at the age of twenty four.

Acharya is a catalyst of awakening, taking you from powerless to powerful. Her latest book, “Sovereign Self" has recently been released!

She has transformed the lives of thousands through speaking, podcasts, and online teachings.

Even today Acharya still finds herself changing and evolving.

In this episode Melanie and Acharya discuss healing from trauma, transforming into something greater, and the limitations we impose on ourselves.

Audiences describe her as a catalyst for awakening and a beacon of light that illuminates the path on the journey from powerlessness to powerful. She has transformed the lives of thousands through her extensive online teachings, digital programs, public talks, podcast and written work. Her most recent book, Sovereign Self, was recently released.

And I'm so excited to have Shunya here.

[Melanie Weller:] I have been just bathing in your book and I feel like I've been waiting my whole life for you. One of my greatest frustrations just in getting into yoga, just on a very basic level, is that I think I'm really sensitive to lineage. And that's a perceived obstacle to really getting deeply into yoga here where I live at the local level. So I'm just soaking up everything from your book and your website because I can really feel your lineage. And I value that so deeply. Thank you. There are so many gems and quotes from your book, and one of my favorite ones is that everything in the cosmos, great and small, lives in the self. I really enjoyed that and I was wondering if you could elaborate on that expression from the Vedas.

[Acharya Shunya] The Vedas & The Self

The Vedas are contemplations and insights, rarified insights of amazing men and women, the seers who lived thousands of years ago and the seers who walked the path of enlightened wisdom before religion was born in India.

They proceed all religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and explain the Self as the form of consciousness, awareness, as expansive as the sky, and you can feel it right here when your heart is no longer constricted with the story, but it's expansive, it is in a state of pure being.

And this self is one, and you Melanie and I and all beings in the caterpillar and the butterfly and every being, we all enjoy the luxury of a different mind and a different story and a different body. But when we are deep asleep, we return to the same self. It's a non dual self, it's one self.

This whole universe, in fact, emerges in that cell because we are that pure consciousness, that living principal, that intelligence, then it's as if, like the stars appear to us and they feel far away. But they are all in that field, which is our truth.

So the whole drama is that we think we are visiting something like a plane or a dimension, but that dimension is emerging in us and we are that. So the Vedas didn't have a word for that. They just called it 'that' you are 'that' ultimate that you seek, the God and goddess that you have created is none, but 'that', 'that' came first, everything and much later and 'that' selfless Otmar or the boundless presence, which is you. And it inspired me.

[Melanie Weller] Oh, it's inspiring just to hear you. I often say that the only rule we ever follow is; as above, soo below.

The cosmos is within and all of our answers are within and we spend so much time chasing the things that are right with us.

[Acharya Shunya] Very true, sometimes I feel like we already know the answer and then we complicate our journey, and instead of turning within and beyond an intellectual knowing, we go into an experiential being, we complicate our lives and we outsource unknowing and we run from the bastard to the priest, from the church to the temple, to purify ourselves when our true being is blemished less than amazing.

[Melanie] Can you talk about how bondage and suffering have always been optional?

[Acharya Shunya] It's interesting that the living being in the Veda's has been given a sanskrit, which means jiva and the literal meaning of the living being, or jiva is not just a biological mass of the needs and desires, but the living being is the one who suffers and the one who seeks.

An answer to the suffering is the living being how well it encompasses you, me and all the people who we know. We suffer and we seek an answer to suffering. And this is the living being on the theater of life.

But we have, it seems, forgotten our true essence, so it's a cognitive error. So if you've forgotten something, like you think you have run out of food and you don't have money to buy food, but you've forgotten that you have a basement in the house where you have all kinds of food waiting for you.

In fact, there are doors that open to grasslands and farms and ponds where you can find fish and everything possible is right there. And in modern parlance, we can call it the conscious mind doesn't know, but the subconscious has the potential waiting for you.

But in the Vedas, it's even beyond the mind that the drama is not happening in the mind, subconscious or conscious mind. They are both limited in their sleep, but when that mind turns inwards and connects with their true selves, advantages and the obligations, attachments of consciousness, the unconsciousness, the self created drama and the light comes on and the one suffering ends, it's as if, like, if I may say so, it's a it's a it's a very good example that when you're trying to get gold, you don't get gold right away.

You get a or and it's a dirty looking piece and then you have to burn it like you have to heat it. And then the smelting takes place in the same way.

We have to smelt our minds in knowledge traditions and in a bath that helps us discard our ignorance, our self ignorance. And when self-knowledge is obtained, light is known from within.

We remember we are self-fulfilling people. We have much more potential to be content and peaceful than we knew.

Chasing Shadows

[Melanie] Recently I ran across a Native American story about the Crow's fascination with her own shadow. She kept looking at it and scratching it and pecking at it until her shadow woke up and then the shadow ate her and then Crow became dead Crow.

So when in your book, you talked about how the more we chased shadows, the more shadows appeared, just as a silkworm chokes on the threads of its own making, so the ignorant mind binds itself to its own allurements.

Can you talk about striking that balance between understanding where your shadow or your own limitations are and not getting completely consumed in it?

[Acharya] I'm glad you asked that question. I don't know if you've noticed this, but worldwide a lot of the spiritual movement of the 21st century has become about the shadow.

Instead of looking for the light within, we are now justifying the shadow, the shadow is healing the shadow, the shadow is the guru, the shadow is the disciple.

There's a lot of drama and melodrama and not a lot of movement from the amount of counseling and therapy and trauma work and spiritual retreats and magazines and media attention, you would think the human beings would be less, less prone to sorrow.

But we're not. We're even more confused than ever because the approach is to stop trying to fix it, that's not who you are.

I explain it as vulnerable and enlightened vulnerability.

You may be vulnerable. You may have been stupid. You might have some unfixable traumas, but if you go on looking at that and trying to fix your broken self from a broken space, you're just going to go round and round in circles and have better days and better days.

But if you allow that trauma to be & look for that unbroken, invincible, wholeness within you, it's only then that you can come back and love and soothe and give yourself.

So it's like a little child is broken and the child from time to time stops crying and tries to take care of itself. But it's only when the mother comes back home that the child can really be so that.

It's like we've stopped looking for that in a mother and a father in a group, we had the gurus, we've thrown away our parents. I'm just talking about the irreverent society in general. I'm not saying about specific ways, but we don't like our elders.

We've put the aging away from us. They don't live among us. It's a teenage culture. We're all trying to look younger than ever, deny the realities of aging and death, deny the needs for our community. No wonder aging has hit us so hard because we were so in denial of everything and we wanted to be in that space of irreverence and also like a false ego, like invincibility, when really we are really vulnerable.

And we are aching, aching for our own wholeness, starving for our own in our unconditional love and really, really in groping in the darkness. We have dreams and aching for this light.

That's why I wrote this book and I took the time it took because I knew that there is some depth in the deeper traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Zen. If you go into any deeper traditions of humanity, you find a whole path, not bandaids. You find real light, not not not a discotheque of possibilities and.

That's why probably my desire is that we don't settle for appearance's, but. It is possible to be right now when you are interviewing me, I have many things going on, not at a superficial level, but a deep existential level. I'm in the middle of an avalanche of transformation, change, loss.

[Melanie] I love hearing those stories, especially because in my clients we see this, there's so many beautiful gifts in trauma. The way I can cry in terms of how resilient we are and I know my own trauma really opened incredible doors that I was not walking through and really showed me who I was at the deepest levels.

I talk about it a lot through the Egyptian myth of ISIS & Osiris. Osiris got chopped into pieces and ultimately went on to be king of the underworld instead of where everybody probably thought his destiny was to be the king of Egypt. But he literally had to come apart to come back together in a new way for a new destiny.

[Acharya] I love how you use mythology, as an eternal part of our existence. Mythology is is the representation of dark and light that is within us.

So to be able to go back and pull from that is very important. And I want to say that, that we've lost our mythology. So thank you for bringing that back.

My new book is coming out February 1st 2022, called ‘Raw Like a Goddess’.

It is about the mythology of the raga. Lakshmi and Sarasvati awaken women and men and mixed gender people against the oppression of internalized patriarchy and misogyny and how we threw away our right to be self, which is beyond gender and all this unconsciousness around being fixed in our genders and roles.

And believe it or not, there is Hindu mythology of Greek mythology that helps us be really bold, unconventional men and women and quite different from the domesticated versions of mythology being put out there now by the new culture.

[Melanie]  I want to go back to the way you talked about subconscious, conscious subconscious and then kind of who we really are, our true essence being.

I love that as I talk a lot about how we're made and Trinity, we literally come from three embryological levels. We live on the third planet from the sun.

Carl Jung talked about the tension of the opposites. And when you can hold two opposing thoughts to be simultaneously true, then a third thing is born that couldn't previously exist.

I'm curious how that aligns with the Vedas in that concept of the subconscious conscious going inward to find your true essence.

[Acharya] I have a Sanskrit saying for it, and it says Khartoum of Khartoum, Amitava Khartoum, which means. If you don't think of existence this way. And if you don’t think of existence that way. Then it should reveal itself as to how it is.

Then we have the conscious, unconscious subconscious of the conscious, the trinity is amazing. It's amazing because the Trinity, the triangle allows for the opposites and something in between.

And so we have the human mind, which, according to the Vedas, and I talk about it in my book, can be three ways. One is known as a way of darkness, where we are in our own self-imposed sleepwalking stance, we live in our own delusions, illusions and self created misperceptions, and we believe them to be true. It's a kind of darkness.

We live in big houses, turn on all the lights, drive big cars. We take vacations in the top places of the world, but, we live in a self created darkness.

Then there is the other mode of mind where we where we say no darkness and we live in the overdrive. But we have lights, but these are not the lights that illuminate the reality, these are lights that cast shadows of their own. They are like strobes. They are known as Rajah's, so the mind is anxious, hyper alert, trying to be successful at any cost or dieting until you drop dead.

There is the third option, the option of balance and the option to be able to take your darkness and your active mode, not need to hide them, but come into a place of knowingness, and this is where you want the mind to be all the time aware that I am a soul. I'm not the role I'm playing. I have connections with the supreme power and the great intelligence of this universe that I don't have to prove something.

I may have a relationship with people and things, but the most primary relationship is with me because I was alone when I came into the body. And I will be alone when I exit this body.

I meet in this carnival while I'm in the body, but I don't have to run after the bodies or what makes the body more comfortable I have to use this time in the body to discover who I am.

This state of mind is and how to cultivate it.

I've talked about in the book like even spending time in nature, some solitude, some meditation, even getting up in the morning and making a bed can help you come into this third vibration of the mind.

I love Jung, too, I read some of his writing and I have quoted how he also was he went through phases where first he talked much about Upanishads and then he kind of went into his own, which happens to a lot of scholars. They begin somewhere. They're inspired by something and then their own self starts teaching them. So we had an original teacher there.

[Melanie] Oh, I love that, that when you get inspired, then your own self starts teaching you. 

I have not contextualized my own evolution in that way, and I absolutely love that. That's really profound. So thank you for that.

Before the podcast, I shared with you my work about some of the ways that the Vedas represent our anatomy and how I use that for energy, healing and transformation in my clients.

And, you know, I've thought of it often like a divine download. I have a lot of credentials and so I talk a lot about how I led with my credentials to justify who I was for a long time, and now showing up much more with my inner being, leading with my inner being versus leading with my credentials has really had profound magical transformations on my life.

That's discovering that who we are is the most important piece.

One of my favorite parables that you told in your book was the invisible rope story. And I was wondering if you could recap that for the listeners.


The Invisible Rope Story

[Acharya] It's a classic story from the teachings of the Vedas and. It talks about the power of the mind to spook us into believing. The misperceived reality, so reality could be quite something else, but we could perceive it differently, come to our own conclusions and live the rest of our life based upon those eternal judgments.

So the story was that you may come across in the dark night a dark corner of the house, you may come across a snake and get really, really scared because sometimes these creatures can show up in the most unexpected places, you could even have a heart attack. You could have a stroke.

But then somebody comes along, a friend, a guy turns on the light and examines it. And it really was just a rope that was in such a way that it looked like it was a coiled snake in the dark.

The Avedas compared the person who turns on the light and helps you see objectively what is what as a guru or the teacher, the guide.

Your misperceived judgment becomes the basis of what is known as a life based on half reality. Why half reality? Because you did see the snake, but it was only in your mind. So it has some reality, but only for you. It has a subjective reality. It's not an objective reality that everybody can confirm.

So from that perspective, then it would have been a complete reality, but it's only a materiality.

And then Vedas goes on to say how we have based our entire life on a meta reality or a half reality, where we see our body in the mirror with a fox and we go with that's who I am. I am my thoughts but you need a guru to open the lights for you and make you realize if you have a body, you are the seer of the body - you have certain thoughts, you are not those thoughts. You are the seer, the witness, the observer, the Sakshi of those thoughts.

You are like that sky and which clouds are coming and going. But just because clouds are looking ominous one day and they block out the sun doesn't mean that the sun doesn't exist. And just because the senses look outwards and they cannot see the presence of your true self, which is invisible, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

So they use the snake and rope analogy to say: we've spooked ourselves and and and and we've conditioned ourselves to create an identity of ours, but that identity is only a suffering identity because we are estranged from our true nature and our true nature can be revealed through the right teachings so that we can turn our eyes inwards and meditate upon that truth.

The new meditation tradition is about stress relief and lowering your BP. But originally the meditation was always in the context of turning our senses inward, stilling our mind to say, OK, I'm not going to go wandering about looking for the snake, I'm going to go find the rope of my inner reality - inwards.

So this story is very useful. Sometimes we think our enemy, this is our enemy and we are this cancer is the worst thing that could happen to me. But in reality, those are the doors that open us to the best things in life.

[Melanie] And the other side of that story that I really enjoyed was the cow that wouldn't move because it needed a rope around its neck and that the farmer just pretended to put a rope around its neck and let it out and it wouldn't move- the rope wasn't real.

[Acharya] This thing to move forward. These beliefs are like imaginary ropes, then we feel bound.

There's another story: in India we have elephants. How do you domesticate an elephant? What they do is when the elephant is still a baby, they tie one of its legs with a rope and the baby is small enough that it can't really break the rope. Maybe it's a chain and it can break it. And so it knows that it can move and it becomes so subdued and it gives up.

Now the baby is like a thousand pounds elephant and this tiny little rope ties them with the leg and they still don't go because they believe they are tied up just like a cow in my book who had just got used to being led around, even though she had no rope, but she expected to be led.

This is what happens when we expect to be told what to do. We think we have limits. We think we don't have other chances. We think that these ropes are holding us back, but they are not.

But after a while, nobody has to tell us. We self tell ourselves that we are in bondage. I've met top psychologists, and some of them are my students, they'll come up to me and say, I have grown a lot from your teachings, but I have childhood trauma that I doubt I can ever overcome. This person not only needs blessing, they need to read my book again because they're holding on to the trauma now.

So I'm not denying the reality of trauma. I'm just saying we really hold onto our past and hold it so close to us and we never let healing and health and space even transpire.

[Melanie] Absolutely. One of my big missions is to start to advance the conversation beyond the trauma. We have to talk about the doors that it opens and the gifts that it brings and the power that for as much you know, I guess, you know, I understand that trauma can be really awful and very real and very, you know, and, you know, and the you know, and requires some significant intervention.

What I've learned for myself is that I was a co-creator of the trauma that I experienced that I and that it was part of my through my learning about myself, through astrology and other systems and realizing how lost voices is part of my karmic back story and that I manifested a childhood where my voice was taken away, largely, that we're all happy to take credit for all the amazing things that happen in our lives, but we don't realize how powerful we are in creating.

The other side of that, too, and that was huge for me and realizing like, oh, I chose all of this and that's very freeing. Now it doesn't sit in my body. And the people that didn't allow me to have a voice don't have that power.

That story that sits in my body very differently than it did before I connected all of those dots that so beautiful.

[Acharya] Thank you for bringing the holistic vision around it because and also acknowledging your own and I don't know if there's any human in the 21st century who's not had their own trauma, but said two things.

One is is very sneaky or the or the mind which believes that the rope is a snake is very sneaky. So when the actual trauma is occurring, especially when we are children, we are victims, but after our ego turns into an aggressor and creates PTSD or complex PTSD and and bounds us in that imaginary snake.

And so we have to look at our own mind. And who is going to take mastership then? And that is your originally beautiful, blissful self, which is unblemished by its own nature.

Then I come back to the second part, which is then there is my dear one who you have suffered and been a victim of karma and you know, and stuff has come to you that you have something unbroken within you, and you can bring yourself to a place where, as you said, convert that trauma into learning a lesson or just let it go.

Sometimes there is no rationale, but it is you have to understand the law of karma there. But something will feel relieved because you've let it go. You just let it go. You keep moving like the wind, keep moving forward like the river.

So you don't hold on to it, not in terms of your holding onto it. I've had my own traumas and and but now I have found that I can hold my trauma like a bouquet. And it gives me fragrance. To prevent more trauma, to have better boundaries and to recognize who I originally was before the trauma, who I always was despite the trauma and who I can become in spite of the trauma.

That's the conversation I'm opening.

[Melanie] Thank you for opening that conversation, because that is so incredibly important, that gave me goosebumps.

Whether people are in the throes of trauma or just trying to learn more about them. You quote in your book, A Translation of the Catha upon that awakening comes not through logic and scholarship, but from close association with an awakened master.

How do you recognize a true guru and how do you use your discernment to figure out where to get help?

Because there are a lot of choices right now. And I feel like it's also more important than ever to be really discerning because I always like to guide people towards where they're going to get the biggest return on their investment or where things are most authentic.

[Acharya] There's a lot of noise in the guru space, certainly right now, definitely in the 21st century, it's hard to find pure milk, good organic, non genetically modified food and genuine teachers.

But just like when we are ailing in the body, we need a genuine doctor. And we look around, we look up reviews, testimonials. They should have some experience. They should have some background and community around them, so we want to we want to be discerning in any space. I have met the best car salesman.

In fact, a few of them are my students and they are genuine and they become sources of great recommendation, but in general, we've now started using the car salesmen as the image of some wheeling and dealing kind of person. But it's untrue.

And for every false guru, there are 10 genuine teachers. That's just a fact. So we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Sometimes I feel like I blame the master. Look at all the sleepwalking disciples who have so many red flags and they continue to cave in because that myth guru is meeting somewhere their myth needs, and myth desires and mythological misconceptions around what a teacher is that's try to write a whole chapter on it and even go through a list of what to see and what not to see.

The word surrender is really misrepresented. When we are sick and we have an ailing ulcer, we have to surrender our body to the doctor or we have an appendix, we have to surrender to the surgeon. So we have to surrender ignorance to the guru, not our vagina. Not our esteemed. And definitely not, the choice of how to lead a lifestyle and if a guru says, leave your loved one, come join my ashram or my sangat and take away all your money from your bank and deposit it, it's common sense not to trust such people.

And why is it that we don't have that common sense? From that perspective it’s common sense to think that all colors are made equal, that all genders are equal, including the mixed genders, but people don't understand. Because we human beings have not evolved very much and wisdom is no longer a popular topic, we don't like sitting with our elders. Television shows are all about beauty, sex and everything superficial.

So there is a whole breed of people who are taking advantage of it. There were elaborate turbans, they have crazy hairstyles, they have costumes that they show up with and it bedazzles, and bemuses and seduces masses and hypnotizes people. That I am the guru.

But the guru is one who awakens you to your inner guru. And the guru should come from such fullness that they don't need you. And if the guru is always wanting your attendance, needs sycophancy and needs millions to be cheering for you, you should be concerned about their diminished ego. And why do they need these external signs?

So what I do instead is I continue to model, what it is to be a teacher and a master in the 21st century and keep showing people how to discern, and that's all I can do.

That's all I can do.

Acharya Shunya Website https://www.acharyashunya.com  

There's lots more to discuss about healing from trauma and I'm looking forward to bringing more episodes of Embody Your Star to you.



See you next time.




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