Shaeri Richards is author of the award-winning self-help book Dancing with your Dragon: The Art of Loving your Unlovable Self. She is also a filmmaker and former journalist and talk show host.
JT: Welcome Shaeri!
SR: Thanks Jilaine. It’s fun to share with you this way.
JT: So many of your career choices have involved the field of communications—is there a common theme that runs through your work?
SR: From a young age, I’ve always felt my mission was to inspire and uplift others. Even more importantly to reach out and touch them through my words and other forms of expression (which include music, dancing and acting as well). I often felt unloved and unaccepted as a young person and my heart always opens to those who seem rejected and withdrawn in their self expression.
When I look back through my body of work, I suppose the theme is self acceptance and self love. It was the cornerstone of my personal healing journey and the theme of my self help book, “Dancing with your Dragon: The Art of Loving your Unlovable Self.” Those of us who have spent time and energy looking for love have likely heard the adage, “You can’t love others until you first love yourself.” I found this to be true in my inner work, which led to a spiritual connection that has become the foundation of my ability to love myself. From there, I can more easily stand in this vibration and allow it to flow through everything that I do. That is my intention as I move through my daily life, and of course it motivates my work as well.
I guess you could say I’m motivated by the healing power of love. My desire is to find multitudes of ways to infuse that energy in and through my creative expressions in this world.
JT: Are you saying that you experience love as a vibration? You’ve read my novel, A Moment of Time (thank you for your review, by the way!); the main male character, Kimo, is studying “energy medicine” and other forms of “vibrational” healing—and the heroine, Caitlin, becomes interested in sound healing, in particular. What you mean by “love” is, I suspect, much broader than the attachments and emotions one ordinarily feels for loved ones or pets or country. Are you referring to a selfless and unconditional love that is beyond human notions about being “nice” or even kind?
SR: Exactly, Jilaine. Unconditional love is a great way to describe it, and in fact I use that description in my book. The “frequency” or “vibration” of this love has a quality that I recognize through the way it feels. In a way, it’s like learning to recognize a color, or a sound. If I were describing the color pink, for instance, (which in the aura-soma color healing system symbolically represents unconditional love) I might say it has a soft quality and appears inviting and accepting. But, of course, no one can actually experience the color from my description. They will come to “know” the color pink when they actually see it for themselves. Unconditional love is the same. I can describe it, but when a person finds it for him or herself, that’s when they truly come to “know” it.
I often liken unconditional love to “space,” like the “space” in a room. There’s a quality of freedom and acceptance to space. For example, you can fill your living room with all kinds of furniture, art, books, whatever you want, and the space never judges or rejects anything. As long as there is enough space in the room, everything is welcomed. The unconditional heart is the same. It doesn’t reject or judge anything. As long as the heart is open or spacious, energy, people, thoughts and ideas can move freely within the space of the heart without attachment, clinging, judgment or upset. The unconditional heart is simply open to what is happening in the moment. It remains present and accepting as one moment flows into the next. With this presence and acceptance, life unfolds and one moment becomes the next with ease and grace.
JT: That’s a beautiful description, Shaeri. The experience of “knowing”—gnosis—is different from knowing “about” something, and it goes beyond believing too; it’s more of a connection with Spirit. I sometimes think of the process of establishing that connection as building a bridge between the human and the divine parts of ourselves. The journey is unique to each individual, but we can learn from other people’s stories and experiences. Teachers who wish to guide neophytes along the path share their wisdom in various ways. I understand your background includes participation in a mystery school that was founded by your mother. Can you share what that was like and how it shaped your development?
SR: When I was invited to join my mother’s mystery school here in Sedona, I was actually clueless about mystery schools and their purpose, but as time went on I came to understand it as a place to discover who we are beyond the personality and the body. In other words, it’s a place to study who we are as soul or spirit. This type of work requires one to first face the fear of death, because as we come to know ourselves as something other than the body, then we also come to know the part of us that never dies. I found this work incredibly freeing, as the more comfortable you are with dying, the more comfortable you become with truly living.
As I understand it, (and perhaps you know even more about this subject) in some of the ancient mystery schools like those in Egypt, initiates were actually taken into the pyramids and had to experience the separation of their consciousness from their bodies through a pretty intense process. We never did anything like that in my Mom’s school. Our work was more focused on meditation and developing the ability to be aware of the spiritual dimensions both in sitting meditation and (more importantly) as our skills developed, to bring that awareness with us into our work in daily life. This work has been incredibly valuable to me and I’m extremely grateful for my 10 years in my mother’s school.
JT: Mothers are always important figures in our lives (another theme in A Moment of Time), but it sounds like your mother also served as a spiritual teacher and guide for you, introducing you to some of the practices that have helped you become all that you are.
SR: That’s true Jilaine. We had our challenges, and she was not always the greatest mother. (I detail some of those stories in my book.) But she was an exceptional spiritual teacher. I learned a great deal from her. She left her body in 1998, and I left the school a few years later, but the lessons I learned will always remain with me.
JT: Thanks so much for stopping by, Shaeri. Keep on dancin’!
For more about Shaeri and her book, Dancing with your Dragon: The Art of Loving your Unlovable Self, visit her web site.