Pranada Comtois interviews Debra Moffitt, author of Awake in the World.
“When we awaken and go deeper, we begin to tune into and use the eyes of our heart. Then we perceive that we are more than our physical our body, and the person in front of us is not just their physical body. I equate this to the process of awakening.”
~ Debra Moffitt
Download the audio, or watch the video here:
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
On a transformative moment at a cocktail party in her home on the Riviera:
I felt, ‘Why bother with this?’ I wanted to climb onto the windowsill and jump out because making money to buy more things seemed totally pointless to me. That was my moment of despairing-awakening. It was my initial moment of crisis when I determined there is no point to a material based life: money isn’t going to do it for me, having things isn’t going to do it for me, relationships isn’t going to do it. I have to find out what fulfills me, and become whole within myself, so that I can fully awaken to who I am.
What are the two or three top practices in the book to embody spirituality in our ordinary lives?
Not everybody has the same path, and we use or need different tools at different times. I find our needs change and people who read the book tell me they change. For me, the ones that are always there are meditation. I find in order to stay connected with the inner divine essence in us daily meditation is essential. Working with dreams is another one.
Through dreams, and most of us have access to this if we cultivate, dreams open us to all kinds of wisdom to guide us on the spiritual path. For me connecting with the inner teacher is easily done through dreams. The third one has to be connecting mind, body, spirit through words, thoughts, and action. In the United States where we are bombarded with media and messages, it is more difficult to keep these aligned.
We grow and transform with change, so a practice that is helpful at one point in our lives may not work in another situation. A practice like defining your guiding values is powerful, but you may need to check in periodically to assess if the values remain the same or need to be added to.
A spiritual path to me is inner-guided. Guidance comes from connecting with the better angel within us who knows what we’re to be doing next. If we tune in and pay attention we get into a flow and that’s when synchronicities happen. We met people who give us messages that we already know and we hear it from some voice outside because our better angel has guided us to meet that person or be in that situation. Even the difficult situations or challenges are guiding us to be more spiritual, guiding us to acceptance and surrender, and to face our weaknesses, and confront and meet the place we need to grow. If we encounter someone we define as an enemy, for me the spiritual practice is how do I expand so this person is no longer seen as an enemy but as someone who I can love.
I lived in many different places, and particularly American culture places appearances above all else. And appearance is so superficial. When we begin to see with the eyes of the heart our vision transforms. It transforms how we experience situations, how we connect with and experience people. It’s very important to develop the discernment that comes with the eyes of the heart.
Where there are the challenges, when people around us leave us, when they die, when we’re betrayed, when we betray we can begin to look at it with spiritual perspective and see what really happened on a deeper level. Before when I was not awake, I would be totally devastated. But coming from a spiritual place I know that I am not that relationship. It was there to teach me something about myself and the world and others and it was something for me to grow. Spirituality completely transforms the way I live the experience. I may grieve or feel depression, but I don’t stay there very long.
The hardest betrayal is when we betray ourselves. When we end up in a relationship when we’re not being true to our authentic self, or when we’re not acting on our spiritual impulse and its really easy to do because we have the desire to please the other person and to maintain the relationship. Not betraying the spiritual self can be very challenging.
Psychology in my experience relegates everything to the level of the mind. Spirituality encompasses everything and that’s why it is so transformative. It encompasses my heart, my emotions, my mind and allows for explanations for all facets of ourselves.
When we begin to tap into that inner self we have our inner teacher which is a part of us that will give us what we need to learn and grow. It’s a very dynamic and interactive experience, whereas psychology tends to keeps us at the level of the mind, and be on the outside looking in. Spirituality transforms minds, emotions, illnesses, habits, everything. But it’s not something you want to embark on until you’re ready to have your life turned upside down—in a good way!
Spiritual life led me out of my numbness from materialistic gain. I noticed that the more things I had—I had a house on the French Riviera, oriental carpets, crystal glasses, silver, porcelain, beautiful antique French furniture—I had all the beautiful things you could want, but the more I accumulated the more I had a feeling of emptiness. I would buy something to try to fill up that emptiness. The more that I would do that, the shorter that feeling of being fulfilled would last. And it wasn’t really a sense of fulfillment anyway.
The essential thing that I learned—I had a sense that the spark in my heart was going to be extinguished if I did not do something to find a different purpose of life.
What is your personal interest and connection with the divine feminine?
It took me awhile to connect because in the Western world we’re so focused on masculine qualities: reason, action, assertiveness. For me that’s not a negative thing, these are essential qualities. But we have denigrated the feminine qualities: being receptive, being open, being loving, and embracing and connecting with people. My experience of connecting with the divine feminine came from living in Europe and then when I went to India. Women are treated in a different way. I went through this inner marriage of the divine masculine and divine feminine. That appeared to be in dreams as actually getting married. The more I worked toward integrating both the more I dreamed of getting married and then I got married not long after that. My exposure to the feminine divine in other cultures really opened up deeper meanings for me and the power of the feminine, which is starting to come into our world now.
There is a difference between being narcissistic and embracing the body temple. When we look at the body just as the body then we limit ourselves to the physical world. And that’s what the media does. It says, You are only your appearance and because you’re not perfect you don’t have value. Spirituality leads us to appreciate the body as a temple of the divine.
And it’s not just the body, everything has a spiritual essence.
Were you changed by writing the book?
It was scary! It was like being naked for me. I’m not somebody who talks a lot about spiritual practices, I do them. To me it’s more important to do them and be them than to talk about them. So some of my friends and people around me were really surprised. I knew writing it would transform some of my relationships but I didn’t know how. I thought my parents might not understand but they were very supportive. My husband was aware of my practices but he left, which is not what I expected. My practice has been to just embrace the transformations and learn the lessons from it. The book has brought new friends and connections from all over the world.
You can find Debra’s book here: Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life.
Debra Moffitt has a syndicated column on Beliefnet, and she teaches at the Sophia Institute as well as other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her work has in numerous publications and has been broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams, and doing spiritual practices. You can find Debra’s book here: Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life.
Pranada Comtois interviewed Debra. Pranada spent two decades immersed as a contemplative-ascetic in an ashram, and the next twenty years raising a family and running two multi-million dollar businesses with the intention of embodying practical spirituality in the world. She brings the wisdom of multiple traditions and lessons from her own experience into her writing and inspirational speaking. Pranada is a spiritual activist who advocates the Way of the Feminine Divine and the practice of unconditional love in daily life for personal and community transformation (Bhakti, the Path of the Heart). She blogs at Little Ways of Being(TM) and is passionate about empowering women to find their unique gifts, voices, and strengths and usher them into the world. Find her also on Facebook and Twitter.
Editor: Alexandra Grace