Awakin Calls » Daya Devi-Doolin » Transcript
Daya Devi-Doolin: All I Need to Know is Inside
Guest: Daya Devi-Doolin
Host: Fabrizio Alberico
Moderator: Pavi Mehta
Welcome to Awakin Calls. Every Saturday, we host a conversation with an individual whose inner journey inspires us and whose work is transforming our world in large and small ways. Awakin Calls are an all-volunteer-run offering of Service Space, a global platform founded on the simple principle that that by changing ourselves, we change the world, to create a more compassionate and service-oriented society. Thank you for joining us.
Fabrizio: Our moderator today is Pavi, and Pavi is drawn to stories of transformations. She is a writer and volunteer with ServiceSpace and co-leads its inspiring news portal, DailyGood. She is no stranger to our entire ServiceSpace community. So Pavi, thank you for moderating today. I'll hand it over to you.
Pavi: Thanks so much, Fab. Excited to be on this call. Our guest today is someone who's experienced the shadows of abuse and homelessness firsthand and from that darkness, she forged a remarkable path into the light of conscious living and transformative inner practices. Today she is the successful author of more than half a dozen motivational books, including 'Yoga meditation and spiritual growth for the African-American Community', 'If you can breathe, you can do Yoga' and 'Find: inner and outer peace'. Daya is a certified Hatha Yoga teacher, an intuitive healer, and with her husband Chris forms the musical duo, AKA Level 7, that focuses on songs that uplift and inspire.
The two of them are co-founders of the Doolin Healing Sanctuary, an award-winning alternative healing center in Deltona, Florida, that aims to help people lead better, healthier lives. Giving back to community is an integral part of the diet there and she's regularly offered free healing sessions and Yoga classes to PTSD vets, abused women and more. She's also the mother of two adult sons. Many who know her call her a 'Doctor of thought'. Daya believes that thoughts are substance and form and that they draw unto themselves the likeness of their form. A profound perspective, and one that she continues to live her life by.
Daya Devi-Doolin, our gratitude for your service-hearted approach to life and all that you've given and continue to give to others. It's a pleasure to have you with us today.
Daya: Thank you, Pavi. My joy as well to be here.
Pavi: I thought we would take our listeners back a little bit, you know, to sort of the beginning of your story. And I was wondering if you could share a little bit about your formative years. Where you were born, what your childhood was like, any early influences that played a pivotal role on your journey?
Daya: Sure. I'm the sister of a brother, younger brother and younger sister of my father's first family. And in the second family, I've a sister, who's teaching Spanish in India. But, basically the three of us grew up in Philadelphia and my mom and dad split up, when I was probably around seven. And we got to live with my great aunt and with my mom. This was all in Philadelphia and my great-aunt was, in my perception, she was a very hateful person. And as a result of my mom being single, she got a degree in nursing, and so she was busy working a lot. And my great-aunt would take care of us during the day while she was working. My brother used to call me fatty or fat. And I didn't know then, what I know, what I learned later and that was -- I could have my own perception of myself, which was better than what I perceived that he was perceiving about me. So it took a long time to get away from the belief that he had about me. And words, I found out are very powerful, whether they're negative or positive; they are very powerful, if they're not said in a loving way.
So I believed what he said about me. Even though he was a loving brother. When I say loving, we had a lot of fun. We laughed, we did things together. And then there were the moments where, you know, he would be rapey. I found out through marriage, my first marriage, I found out that the perception he had of me was hidden within my conscious mind and subconscious mind. And I experienced as a result of the perception about myself, which was false, I experienced being in a marriage, actually the very first day after the wedding day, I experienced the abuse that was yet to form, and yet to come, more on a daily basis, I experienced quite a negativity about me, and abuse, emotionally and physically, that ties in with my impression about myself really. I didn't know that at the time but, it was very apparent that by my accepting the abuse from the former husband, I was accepting not loving myself.
And each year, I would say I'm getting a divorce and up until five years, I would say that on a regular basis. But the fifth year, I became pregnant with my first son. And so I stayed for five more years, pretty much towards the end of the fifth year of staying there in that marriage. I didn't know how to get out of it. I didn't know that there was something I could do about it. I didn't know that I could call the police. I didn't know that I could report it, like you can report things now.
Now in this history, so on the very last day of my staying there in the house, even though I was teaching, I didn't have money because he would use the money up for other things. I prayed in the bathroom while my son was sleeping. And the song came to me. I'm a songwriter and the song came to me. 'Am I ready, Lord? Am I ready, Lord? If I'm ready, Lord; then Let It Be.' And then I heard "Yes, I'm ready Lord. Yes, I'm ready Lord. Yes, I'm ready Lord. Now, let it be." And so an issuance of extreme power and strength poured over me.
I left the bathroom. I got dressed as if I were going to work. I got my son dressed and we were on the second floor and we, I walked to the edge of the stairs and the former husband came barreling out of the bedroom, wondering where I was going. And I told him that I was leaving. And immediately, I felt and saw a four feet thick wall around the both of us. It was like a metal encasement, where he could not go down one step further. He could not reach into us, he could not touch us and as we got down to the bottom of the stairs, I was realizing I had no place to go, no place to live, and the phone rang and I answered it.
I had my son in my right hand. Holding his hand, I answered the phone and I said who it was and it was a friend of mine, a Yoga friend of mine and he asked me Daya, do you know of anyone who could babysit for a family and do you know of anyone who needs an apartment, a place to live? Yes, and in my mind I'm like, whoa. And he said, the person would have to take care of, the only thing the person would have to do, to live rent-free, is to have the ability to sit with the kids, two children and to buy groceries for the family. And I knew I could do that and right away. I said, yes, I can do that. Yes, I need a place, and they were surprised to hear that. I was the one that needed a place.
So, we went right away. I left. I drove my car and we drove right away to make the arrangements for me to live there, and to pay for the groceries and take care of the kids after school. And so, that was my start of knowing that I love myself and that it doesn't matter what anyone else says or thinks about me. And of course, I can't know their thoughts. On one level, I can, on another...I had no fear of moving forward in the path that God had guided me to. So that's where, pretty much where we start, with my learning about the Truth of Words and the Power of Words. My learning about myself, loving myself more.
Pavi: That's a tremendous experience and you know a couple of things that I wanted to follow up on from that story and one was that, you know, you said that you were in the bathroom and you were praying and I'm just curious about your relationship to prayer, before that point, to faith -- was that something that you had ever since childhood, or how was it?
Daya: Yes. Since I was about seven, as I recall, and then, my mom would take us to Sunday school and church, and I was baptized when I was 11. So I've had a close relationship, but I didn't know how close and I didn't know that God was within me, as well as without, and not just me, but you know, encasing our planet.
Pavi: That experience in the bathroom, when you felt that, kind of, that light -- that was your first experience of that?
Daya: Yes, pretty much. I would say yes. That I was really aware of. I hadn't really called on the Lord, except when I was being in a struggle, physically struggling for my life. I didn't know that I could really call on the Lord or Christ and be helped in the situation.
Pavi: So you feel there was like a difference in the way you were calling out?
Daya: Yes. Yes. It was very powerful and I was listening, and I knew I needed help. So, that's what happened. The inner help just came through and I listened, and I acted on what I was to do.
Pavi: Yeah, that is just kind of, really sort of, just even imagining that moment, I can just sense how profound that revelation must have been for you. And the other thing I wanted to follow up on was that you mentioned about your Yoga friend who had called you, and so by this time I'm wondering how and when Yoga entered your life and what that experience of entering that tradition was like for you?
Daya: I got out of school, college in 1962. And about a year later, I was in a Barnes & Noble bookstore. And when I went in, to the left of me, there were tons of books and one of them stood out to me. And I picked it up and I read through it and it was called ‘Yoga, Youth and Reincarnation’. I didn't know anything about reincarnation nor Yoga, so it was intriguing to find this and look through it and to see what just turned this author, what he wrote about it, and his experience with it, after his skepticism about what Yoga could do or was about. So I bought it and I was studying it, reading it, doing the postures as best I could.
And I told Spirit, I said -- Speaking to myself is speaking to Spirit; ‘I am’ presence is very powerful -- so I said I'd like to have a teacher, a Yoga teacher to let me know and guide me as to whether I'm doing these postures correctly, and answer some more questions about the history, about Yoga. And not long after that, the person, the same person who called me was telling me about a Yoga class that was getting started and he was going to be teaching it (laughs).
So, I started learning from him and then one of the most miraculous things that happened in my life was that on my way, after I left the first husband, on my way home, there was a building that had the word Sivananda on it. A big long banner across it and I would say what is Sivananda? I kept asking what is Sivananda? And I must have passed from there a dozen times, once I stopped and knocked on the door. No answer.
And one Sunday, I was driving by and I stopped and knocked on the door and this time someone was there and it was a dear, gentle, loving, kind man from India who answered the door. And I told him what I was looking for and I told him I'd been by the building a 100 times. And he had the kindest smile and brightest eyes and he said come on in, I'll explain to you a little bit. So I did and he became my second Yoga teacher for years and his name was Yogi Bharat Gajjar. I learned a lot from him and his wife. His wife was a Yoga teacher and a student of Yoga. And they explained that Sivananda was the name of the centre based on the Guru Sivananda, Honourable Sivananda and there are centres around the country; not too many, I investigated. But anyway there are centres around the country and they teach the Yoga that Sivananda taught.
Pavi: Yeah, actually where I used to live in South India, right opposite the hospital, there was a Sivananda Yoga Center and that was where I first was introduced to Yoga as well. Well, I was just wondering because it wasn't...that Yoga tradition wasn’t something that you'd grown up around. It wasn't something you'd even heard about before, so what really drew you in? What was the hook for you?
Daya: When I feel...I realize that I'm a dowser in respect of spiritually being attracted to where I need to be, and what I need to do, and what I need to say and go, etc. So when my body, and my mind, spirit which is all connected, working together, guides me to do something, and I do it, and I always find that the reason I think I'm doing something is way more, tons more than what I thought I was seeking, or what I was doing or why I was doing anything.
So, I was drawn to it because I was going to be a Yoga teacher to help others to find the truth about themselves, and to get magnetized to the spirit of the Lord, or the source of the universe. So it was like a primer for doing what I'm doing now. I didn't realize that; it was not my desire to be a yoga teacher. When I was learning Yoga, I was learning it for myself and to be healthy, mobile, and flexible, and to know about spiritual things that you can't see. So that was, you could say, the drawing point.
Pavi: Yeah. And just so for those listeners who may not be as familiar with Hatha Yoga, and in a time when there's so many different kinds of Yoga proliferating, could you share a little bit about what your understanding of the Hatha Yoga tradition is, what its aims and aspirations are?
Daya: One of the tenets/principle that Bharat really stressed, not over and over and over, but the importance of it, is that the breath is the temple of life. You can do anything when you remember to breathe. You can be quiet, you can listen to God that way, you can listen to Spirit’s directions for you. You can listen for solutions when you're in a meditative state, not with your legs crossed and fingers and certain way, but even while you're doing the dishes or vacuuming, you can be in a meditative state and breathing deeply.
You can lower your blood pressure. You can open your arteries and veins for the blood to flow smoothly through. You can quiet yourself, get out of the realm of fear that you might be in. And you're in the realm of fear when you take yourself away from your breath, when you take yourself away from listening to Spirit. So that's one of the key things that he really taught us, and it's even more.
Pavi: Yeah, that's a powerful key. You had already started practicing this even within the context of the abusive marriage that you were in? Like you had already started the work with the breath and this inner work?
Daya: Yes. The ex-husband was very jealous of what I was learning and how I was being. Because I would not need to be in a confrontational or in a defensive mode, after I learned the power that I had within myself. So I didn't argue and I didn't need to defend what I was doing or what I was learning. So that was very helpful. I didn't know it was going to be helpful. But Spirit knew that I was going to need to know what to do in certain times.
Pavi: Can you share a little bit more about your second teacher's role in your life, and what you feel like you learned from him?
Daya: (laughs) How to be happy. How to release fear. How to be one with myself, be one with people, how to love people, how to know that everybody has the Christ within them, as well as myself. So I'm no better or different from anybody else in that respect. Everybody has the Holy Spirit working with them, and for them and through them. And again, I'm no different. I may be a little more aware. I don't know. But being aware you can also be disobedient, in the sense of not listening, even though you are aware that you're not listening, to be aware more. He taught me about being joyful, being happy, being warm, and loving, and caring for myself, as well as caring for others.
Pavi: What was his style of teaching? Like how did he convey all of this. These are all profound. It's like the curriculum of life, right there.
Daya: Yeah, he taught Hatha Yoga. He used to teach in the prison, Yoga to the inmates there. I think he would do that maybe once a month. And he was just very giving. Very, very giving. We would have Satsangs at the Yoga Center once a month. We'd have chanting, mantras, aarthi which is a very special ritual, and just all kinds of events -- Christmas events. He would have lectures, of course, about the Bhagavad-Gita. Just everything that you can't see, everything that you can't touch, he was involved in sharing with us and how to do it ourselves.
We were residents of Wilmington, Delaware when I was going to his Yoga Center. I remarried several years after I got divorced and we moved to Florida. That's where we are now, Central Florida. It was some probably 40 years before I reconnected again with him.
Pavi: Oh wow, so you didn't connect with him for 40 years. Did I understand that right?
Daya: I didn't reconnect with him for 40 years. Something like that, maybe 35. He has a son. I think his son is still here, in like Miami or Tampa, Florida. So he came down to visit his son and I got to have my husband and my youngest son get to meet him in the Tampa area. It was just beautiful. Golly. It was so beautiful. So we spent the whole day together and had dinner together. And then we had to come back up to Central Florida.
Pavi: Yeah, what a special mentorship to have received, and it just feels like it was built with such grace. I was wondering if you could color in a little bit, like your life after you walked out of your apartment and were gifted this miraculous opportunity of living space and opportunity. How did you begin to rebuild yourself from that point outwards. And where did life take you, how did you meet your husband? There's so many questions in the parts that you skipped over...
Daya: I've written a book with my husband called Smile America and we share everything that pretty much happened to us. The first book I wrote is called Super Vita-Minds, they are powerful positive thought forms. Super Vita Minds, how to stop saying I hate you to yourself, how to stop saying I hate you...to yourself. That was on the horizon and I didn't know it.
When I got out of college, I said I never want to read another book, I never want to read anything, because I had to read so many books, so many books and so many book reports, that I didn't want to have anything to do with books. Turns out that Spirit had other plans for me, because I've written several books now. The preparation for the book started with having been in the marriage, which was not a loving place to be. Any day, there was no love. And it's amazing that my first son was born anyway. But I could go into that, another time.
I want to say, the path that I was on, the path that I got on, because of Yoga, it enabled me to meet two people -- a husband and wife, a very loving couple, they were in their 70s, when I met them. They were writing this newspaper for the community. They were a black couple. And they were writing this. They wanted to lift the people up in the community. They wanted to lift them up with positive things to think about, positive things to do.
I don't recall how I met them, but they said, would you write some articles for our paper? And I said, yes. So I did. And then they asked me if I would like to teach what I was writing about on cable television, and I said, yes. I didn't have to think about it. And so they wanted me to teach Yoga. They wanted me to teach about nutrition. They wanted me to teach how to present yourself for a job, what kind of clothes to wear, what kind of attitude to have. I said yes to all of that and they arranged to have me speak to the people at the cable television station. And we arranged for six weeks of half-hour shows, and then they contracted with me to 13 weeks.
So, that led to a lot of things, led to a lot of directions. And in the meantime, I was also teaching modeling, not acting, but modeling to the community. So helping people to have a better image of themselves, take a better liking to themselves, and all of that became like the basis for the first book that I wrote.
Pavi: Could you share a little bit more? Because I'm just thinking about many people who have been through the trauma of abusive relationships and things in their past, and it seems like for you, you were really able to find a path to transforming all of that, from the inside out. I know for many people it's almost like a shackle that ties them to the past. And so what was the process that you followed to be able to kind of dissolve those old patterns and to free yourself from that part of your consciousness that was actually driving you in that way?
Daya: A couple of really powerful tools and things and that is... I was invited to come to a meeting that was going to be led by a woman who had cancer, didn't have it any more. She was going to be leading a lecture or discussion about a book called A Course in Miracles. And 'A Course in Miracles' is a three-part book -- a work-book, a textbook and a teachers manual. My now-husband Chris said no, that doesn't fit us.
So, the next thing that happened was that a friend of ours called us and asked us if we would like to come to a meeting, and the title of it is ‘A Course in Miracles’. And we said no, thank you. Then the next thing I know there's a newspaper, there's a Penny Saver called Penny Saver Newspaper and they have ads in there and they have lectures and events going on, and I saw something about 'A Course in Miracles' in it.
And I, I remember throwing, balling the paper up and saying it has nothing of value, and I remember throwing it in the trash can. So a friend persisted in calling us about 'A Course in Miracles' and said come by our house, come by my house and take a look at the book. So I took the newspaper out of the trash can, and it had the number of the lady that was having the meeting. And we went and we looked through his 'A Course in Miracles' books and finally got it. And finally got it! We finally got the message that was being shared.
We thought at first it was too philosophical, but it's philosophical as well as a spiritual book, and it teaches you that the ego's thought system is not what you want. It teaches you that the ego's thought system wants to tear you down, beat you down, blame, be unforgiving, unloving. It teaches, it teaches us to be hateful towards the body, condemn the body.
And ‘A Course in Miracles’ teaches you that you are loved, and there's nothing to condemn, there's nothing to blame. There's nothing to forgive. There's nothing to be anything about yourself, but loving. And so that was one of the tools that I used to transform myself and my husband as well.
So it's a year's program. 365 days a year, you have another lesson of the workbook to bring your thought system back to the way it's meant to be. So, we did that, probably two years. One year, with a friend and another year, on our own. And then we decided that, not so much we decided, but Spirit suggested that we be facilitators of 'A Course in Miracles'.
So we were facilitators up North, and we were facilitators down here when we moved here in 1986, and we were facilitators, until we got to a point where we'd have different groups. And we would teach this for free, or facilitate it for free.
And we got to a point or a place in our lives where we realized that people were coming just to be argumentative and coming to, well, I guess argumentative is the best word, they didn't want to believe anything that was going to be helpful for them. They just wanted to bring discord. So we discontinued having the group and we haven't changed our mind, since that time. But we have friends from 'A Course in Miracles' up to this day, which is like 22 years, something like that, because of the the guidance that the book gives you. So that's one of the biggest tools, to answer your question, for my transformation.
Pavi: And those are powerful practices. I've had a little bit of experience with it, and we actually had another Awakin Call guest who along with his wife edited a book called Gifts from the Course in Miracles.
Daya: Oh, wow!
Pavi: Which is excerpts from that, um, you know, knowing that a lot of people might be interested, because it's actually quite a sizable book, right? It's not a light read at all.
Daya: No way!
Pavi: ...Distilled it down into, you know, the more secular parts, because also, I mean, I think the framing for some can be, you know, they can assume it's very religious and they can miss the spirituality that's so inherent in it.
Yeah, that's powerful. I think that, you know, that thing that you described is like, really it's almost like an unlearning processor, you know, an undoing of the patterns of mind that we build, and to return it to the natural state. I feel like, so powerful, that for you, it was a, you had a deep experience with suffering, a deep experience with, you know, with trauma. And so it wasn't just some kind of a, I mean you were really practicing, you know, at the front lines with this!
Daya: (Laughs) I like that! It was at the front-lines, yeah...
Pavi: So could you share a little bit, about meeting your husband and how the Doolin Healing Sanctuary came into existence?
Daya: Ok! Yes. At the time when I was formerly married, I started hearing music. Yoga opened the doorway for me to be writing songs and I did not know I could write songs. Until then. And I had a friend at school who was a music teacher, whose name was Dan. I asked him if he would put my lyrics and my music on sheet paper. And so he did that. And he would - that's wonderful. He would take time, out of his family time, to help me to get these songs together and write them on read sheets. So one day he said, 'Why don't you learn how to play the guitar? And then you can accompany yourself. And you won't need me. You won't need my services."
And so, I got involved with a guitar teacher. And I would have to be there at a certain time. I would have to be at his place at a certain time. And so, two or three times, I was late. And I was late only because my son's father disapproved of me going outside of his realm. And he would purposely make it so he would be late coming home. So I would be late for guitar lessons. The very last time I went, the teacher said that was it because I was late. So he did not want to be bothered with me. But by that time I had learned enough chords to help myself write the music for my songs. And I took it from there.
I was on the marquee of a huge mall. My name was on the marquee of a huge mall, and there were 4 concerts that I would be giving. And then you know, the thing with leaving came about, so I was on my own that way. Well, I ended up going to.. my mother lived in Philadelphia and I ended up living with her for a while. And the former husband got to keep my son. We had a legal battle. And he was awarded my son's guardian.
And my mother lived in a government-operated facility. So she could only have herself living there and paying the rent that she paid. And I was not on the lease to be there. So they found that out. Not that we were keeping that a secret, but I was trying to keep a low profile there. We found that out, that she could not have me stay there anymore or she would be dismissed. She had to tell me this news and I had to be out of her apartment by the 14th of February, which was in 1979. So I didn't have any place to go.
So I had that very day I had scheduled an audition for me to perform for a gig in one of the clubs in Philadelphia. So I went there. I went to the audition. And at the audition I met two fellows -- two gentlemen who were guitarists -- one was a guitarist and one was a flute player. We got talking and I told them I did not have a place to stay. And we did not have any gigs at that time. They said why don't you come down tomorrow to the Galleria, it’s the subway area of the Galleria, which was a huge mall. And they said that they play music there and I could come and join them.
So I did - I did that. I heard that. And they also said - you could stay at our place, which was a one bedroom. They had one bedroom and one bed. They had a chair. And I had agreed to stay there, because I did not have a place to stay. And I just trusted Spirit to lead me to be safe. And they took the mattress off the bed, off the box springs. One of them slept on the mattress. And the other slept in the chair. And I slept on the box spring. Isn’t that somethin?!
Pavi: Wow, yeah, the generosity!
Daya: And so I was there for a couple of days. And they were told by their manager of their one bedroom area -- they were told that I had to leave, because they don't foster prostitution. They were thinking that I was a prostitute, so I had to leave there.
So we figured out that if we put all our money together, that we had earned that day, it would get a room for me at the YWCA, which was really way far from where they lived. But it worked for a couple of days. The room was like a prison cell for a woman. But I stayed there. And I was protected. And then couple of days in the playing in the streets and playing in the subway, Chris happened to come by. He happened to have met Erin, the guitarist before, and so he would come by everyday. Pretty much every day and listen to our music. And then he asked if he could join us by bringing his guitar.
So he brought his guitar one day. And we became the Street Players. And so we meet at the same place in Philadelphia on South street; we’d play on Walnut Street, 15th and Walnut. There was a lot of people that would come through there, and put money in our boxes. Getting off the buses, they would stop and listen to our music and like it. We had a good little band. We did not have such a good relationship. But we hung in there for several months.
And we found out that Chris lived at the Candy Hotel on Walnut Street, 21st or 22nd at Walnut, and his place was called the Candy Hotel. Sometimes we would all crash in his one bedroom place. And the one bedroom place had a bathroom on the second floor. The door was off the hinges, there was no door. And the tub was like -- ten years of un-cleaning. And then there was a shower on the first floor, which you had to have somebody stand at the shower door to protect yourself. It was all mouldy and everything. But at least you’d get a shower down there. So Chris would stand guard, while I would get a shower and I’d do the same.
So we developed a wonderful relationship. Because we would talk about dreams. We would talk about spiritual things. Things that mattered. We would talk about our own spiritual growth. And we started keeping a record of our dreams. And the dreams really showed us what was going on with the Street Players. It was just something. So we would get notebooks. And draw stick figures of things that would be happening emotionally, and things that would be happening word-wise, from the people. We got to know and got to be forewarned about their actions and their activities, and their purpose, through the dreams.
So we eventually wrote a book called "Hidden Manna: how to understand the meaning of dreams." And that's for sale as well. I’ll just give that a little plug (laughs)! So I met Chris that way, And I would not be going out or anything. I did have a date one time, with someone who liked our music and was a guitarist as well. And I remember going on the date, leaving the Candy Hotel and Chris was looking like a little puppy dog that I was going. And then I realised maybe a day or so later, his true feelings for me. And he learned about mine for his.
So we played together with this group for a while. We had a guy come by, who was a drummer, percussionist and he had these little tools for drumming, and he would add the percussion to our music. And we were five of us and we played until actually the summer of July, 1979, the very day that we were married. We have been saving up our money, saving up our money in a little cup in the bedroom that we had. And he found out, the drummer found out about it and came into the apartment and tossed things around, took drawers out and pretended that we were robbed. But the way things were put, we knew that we weren't robbed. We were robbed, but we knew that someone who cared about us a little bit didn't, you know? We weren't 'robbed' robbed. He stole our money and he was a gambler, we found out. He stole our money for our rent that was due that day, and comes walking around in brand-new kickers, you know? Brand new pants, brand new shoes, which he hadn't had for months, right? We found out about that and we were out on the streets after that, because we didn't have money for rent or anything. That was the homeless start of our married life together.
Fabrizio: I will just jump in. This is Fab again. I will just jump in at this time, and mention that if anybody has any calls or any questions rather, you can hit star six on your phone or if you would like to submit a question via email, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pavi: So what does it, how did things evolve from there?
Daya: Well, we had to, like I said, we started talking about...We were involved in spiritual things, spiritual talking, spiritual conversations, not religious-y stuff, but spiritual stuff that mattered and counted. And so we would pray every day before we start our day, we would pray every day. We would also play music on the street, you know? We told them we were not playing with him anymore. So we would always make sure by the end of the day that we had a dollar, 99 cents, each. And that would be used for our breakfast that would keep us for the whole day, for the next day, because there was a restaurant, a diner restaurant nearby that we would go to, and get toast and eggs, jelly on toast and that would be our our food for the day, until the evening time.
In the evenings, we found out, one time, there was a condemned building where the floors were rotted out, the windows were out and things like that. Not far from where Fairmont Park was. So the door didn't lock, of course. One of the things we did was, when we went to stay there, was to put our guitars up on the second floor, where there was a bed, a mattress and we put our blanket that we had developed to cover us up over our heads. And we had a tambourine which I would play sometimes and we put the tambourine on one of the guitars, so that if anybody came in, we'd hear them.
And lo and behold, someone who was a groupie tried to steal my guitar because they liked it. So they tried. They came up in the dark because there was no electricity, of course. They came up in the dark, up the stairs and they didn't know that the tambourine was on the guitar, and they bumped into it. And so we woke up right away and sent the guy packing. Chris sent him packing.
So we had a an angel which I talk about in my 'The only way out is in' book 'The Secrets of the Realms of love, happiness and success', we talk about this angel that we met. His name was Smitty. So Smitty would always somehow know that we needed him, in any kind of situation. He would always be there. He'd be coming up the street and he wouldn't know that we were coming. You know? I mean he would know. But we didn't know he'd be coming up the street. So we called Smitty, spiritually called him, telepathically called him, and he came to this abandoned or condemned house that we were in. And he said that he would sit up during the night watching over us while we slept. So that's what he did. And during the day, he would just go off on his own. He just was a wonderful wonderful man in human form, and funny. Very, very funny. Very wise, very funny.
Pavi: He stayed up watching over you at night?
Daya: Yes, he'd sit in the chair. Yeah, to make sure that our equipment, our two guitars and what clothes we had, were not taken or that we weren't harmed in any way. Well, I don't want to digress too much. We would, after we stayed in the condemned building for a while, we would sleep, take turns sleeping in the park, on the bench. Keep our eyes open, watching our guitars.
Or we would sleep in the park, in like the woods area, put our blankets on the ground. Sometimes we would sleep under parked cars of apartment complexes and we would be protected from the rain. We'd also be protected until six o'clock or so, when people were driving off to work, so we would get up before they'd be getting in their cars. And sometimes we'd find a McDonalds door that was open like 24 hours, and we would, you know, we'd go there and freshen up in the bathroom. We would find, we would find different places to sleep. We would never sleep in the same place for too long. And one time we were asleep and the police kicked our feet to wake us up, so that we wouldn't be, you know, in the way of traffic and stuff like that.
So Smitty, he had been in the service and he was very old when we met him, when we came into contact with him. And Chris met him first, and then he introduced me to Smitty. He would talk about Smitty all the time. And so I finally got to meet Smitty. He got sick and he was in a veterans administration building for housing, you know, for vets who are sick, and we would visit him, whenever we could. And then when we moved to Florida, we were farther away from him, but whenever we came to Philly to see my mom, we'd go visit Smithy. And the very last time we went to visit Smitty, which was the last time we ever saw him, we were told that there was no one there by that name and there was no one ever there by that name. How do you explain that?
Daya: There was no one there, by that name, and no one had ever been there, by that name. And we used to visit him. We know he was there. So we wrote a book and he's in the chapter on Angels, the realm of Angels.
Pavi: What a beautiful transition point to the second half of this call!
Daya: Thank you.
Fabrizio: All right! So, thank you, Pavi, and thank you, Daya. Once again, for any callers out there who would like to submit a question, you're welcome to submit a question by hitting star six on your phone or email@example.com to submit one, via the online form. It's been a pleasure to sit back here and listen to the conversation like a fly on the wall, and I have a couple of questions for you, if you wouldn't mind?
I'm curious about your discovery of Yoga, and your discovery of the power of Yoga came at an opportune time, and it seemed like it coincided with you needing it, when you were facing some crisis situation with your husband at that time, and and the power was there. I think that's many people's experience of, kind of, accessing some spiritual tools, if you will, to help us along. But I'm wondering, in your experience, is there a way to kind of get connected with the power of these tools without actually going through a crisis? Is there a way to to learn these things without experiencing distress or crisis?
Daya: I'm sure there is but I would say that it is because of the things that we get ourselves into, that it shows us that there is a better way. There has to be a better way. And so that way, when we're ready, the way is presented to us. Like I said earlier, about the solutions are already inside of us for the problems that we end up seeing. So to answer, yeah, there is. I mean, you don't have to be in a crisis situation for tools to be presented to you.
But it's a way of guiding us away from ego-thinking, ego-thought forms and to know that ego is not the father with the capital F. It's the sunbeam or the ray or whatever, but it's not God. It's not the father, it's not the universe.
Fabrizio: And your introduction to Yoga, although you did have an interest in the philosophical aspects of it, was primarily a Hatha Yoga practice, practice through the postures? And I'm a Yoga practitioner myself and so I understand the power of these postures and the practice itself. But to some of our listeners who are not familiar with how they relate, can you kind of explain your perspective on how just the physical practice of yoga can help in unlocking some doors, that may not on first glance seem immediately obvious that they're connected?
Daya:There are ways to heal the body and there are ways to keep the body healed. You don't have to be sick to be involved in Yoga. One of the ways to heal the body is through Yoga postures and what's called Yoga mudras and mudras are hand finger positions that allow the ether and allow the air and fire and water of ourselves to heal us. So you touch certain parts of the fingers and thumb together to bring about and draw forth and attract the ethers and the air and the fire element, etc., water etc. So yoga mudras help you to do that if you're suffering from, like say, lung problems, asthma, allergies etc. Suffering from weight loss or weight gain and you want to have a release of extra pounds, there are Yoga mudras for that, yoga postures and you have to breathe. That's the other thing I talked about earlier.
You must breathe as breath is the healing temple of our life. So in the Yoga postures, you're encouraged to breathe and not hold your breath, and not breathe through your mouth but through your nose. And you're encouraged to do these breathing repetitions, while you're holding a posture and not holding yourself stiff or tight or stressed. The postures help unbind you so that your bones get healing, your skeletal system, for example, gets healing. The lymphatic system is helped and and aided in every way, for toxins the flow out of you, it helps deliver the organs, all the organs, all the hormonal glands.
You just don't realize until you're in a posture what's happening. And you may not even realize that when you're in there, you just know that the nerves and the tissues and the muscles are being supplied with pranic energy and oxygen and just extreme vibrational frequencies. I'll put it that way -- extreme openings. You just feel so aerated after you finish working, and sometimes during the passages, you just feel so aerated because you get unkinked.
Fabrizio: And I understand you passed on these teachings to your husband?. Can you tell us a little bit about that? How receptive was he to what was going on?
Daya:He was not non-receptive. He was very receptive. And, we celebrated our 39th anniversary, this Tuesday and he's still, every week, he does a Saturday when he has more time. He does postures pretty much every Saturday and every night, he does postures for his spine to keep his spine flexible. He's been very receptive, very happy and he also, when we do the free Yoga classes at the libraries, he's always there.
Fabrizio: Can you tell us a bit about that? Who shows up for these free Yoga classes?
Daya: Mostly women and mostly women in their 40s and 50s, 60s, 70s. Mostly women. There were a lot of men, who were veterans, who started and then they dropped out. Let's see, some grandchildren come with their grandparents. And last year, we had a, in December for the end of the year program, we had a autistic day event for autistic children. And so the parents came, brought their children and it was a very beautiful ending of the Year program, of course.
Fabrizio: You mentioned grandchildren. I'm wondering if your son ever took an interest in Yoga?
Daya: My youngest son did for a while, Joseph and so he's in my Yoga book. He's a model for some of the Yoga postures in my Yoga book. He doesn't do Yoga now, but he knows a lot of the postures because I, since he was a little,...
Pavi: Fab, sorry to jump in here. I just wanted to make sure you have access to the questions that have come in online?
Fabrizio: Yes, I do.
Pavi: Okay, perfect.
Fabrizio: And I will go to one of those questions, right now. So David asks: "a small group of us are organizing a donation based community Yoga class in San Francisco to support people dealing with high-pressure, congestion and economic insecurity. Could you please share your suggestions how to structure such a program where it is welcoming and inclusive both for those with and without means, as well as across different levels of abilities. In particular how best to provide support for those experiencing chronic trauma?"
Daya: I would write up a flyer, Windows or whatever, of the event that you're having, but I would make sure that it's appealing. Like just write it as if you're writing it for yourself, so that you would be, like your interest would be piqued. Oh, what is it? How is it going to help and when is this going to take place? Can I afford it? I would write it from a a real, loving, personal space and place, in order to reach people. Having it like donation-based or free is a good way to reach out to weekly newspapers, weekly community newspapers. Does that answer your question?
Fabrizio: Um, I think so. Um, I think he was getting at some questions in terms of, sorry, Let me just go back to the question here. What he was also asking was, you know, many people are coming at Yoga from very different perspectives and certainly in San Francisco, you know, there are people who are from both extremes of the economic spectrum, if you will. And so how do you make it welcoming to those with and without means, and across different levels of abilities. You know, some people consider themselves not flexible enough to do Yoga, which I always get a kick out of, because you know, it's kind of like saying you're not dirty enough to have a shower. And so how do you, how do you make it appealing and inclusive for people from all income levels, all socioeconomic backgrounds and all abilities?
Daya: Well, what you just said and make sure that that's all included in the flyer that I was just talking about, all ages, all nationalities, all sizes, any sex. And I think the key thing is making sure that people realize you you can offer chair Yoga as well, at the same time. You can show the Warrior pose for example and you can show it without a chair and with the use of a chair. You can show, you can demonstrate how to use a wall for wall positions, you can use props let them know that props will be available, straps available to help people go beyond what they think they can do. A chair pose, like I said, the Warrior is a very good example. You can see in your mind how you would do that or how they could do it. Adapt, you know, just make sure that people know that poses can be modified to fit your flexibility and mobility.
Fabrizio: Okay, thank you. So we do have a caller. Go ahead, caller.
Caller: Hi Daya, this is David. Thank you for answering my question. You're a breath of fresh air to listen to, first.
Daya: Thank you.
Caller: And you said one word, which I think answered my whole question that the gentleman was just asking and you said 'aerating.' When I think about aerating off the ground, that's hard. So with that other thing -- when you have people who are, you know feeling trauma, and you know, warrior may be too much for them and you just want to let them release what's you know built up in them, all week and they're you know stressed out from the course of the week. And they're very anxious whether they're going to be able to afford to live in the city.
You know, let's say we've attracted people and now you've got them there and we're blessed to have you as the teacher, and you introduce yourself and you're just going to have them do some things. How would you go about how you're talking with them, and just a few simple things that you would have them experience, and how you would lead us through just a couple simple things, you know for the trauma-focused?
Daya: Yes. One of the things you learn in 'A Course in Miracles', well, there's a couple things, but one of the basic things is that 'you are loved' and the other thing is 'there's nothing to fear. There's absolutely nothing to fear.' You can think there are, but you can also choose to think a different way about the fear or the trauma that you've been through.
And, as you know, I've been through trauma. That understanding that you have the power to change whatever thought you have, you have the power to believe one way, you know, and stay stuck. Or you have the power to choose to think another way and believe it. And so repeating like, you know, I was with a client this weekend. They were going to have a test tomorrow, which was yesterday, and so they were worried about what the test would reveal. And so after the healing work that I did with one, with Reiki, we went through 'there's nothing to fear.'
And I had her go through this until she actually felt there was nothing to fear. And I told her when she said these words, I said, "I will know whether you believe the words or not. So we're going to keep doing this until you do." And I wasn't being argumentative or anything. When she finally got to that place where she believed there was nothing to fear...she called me yesterday after the test and told me there was no mass!
Caller: So you're lifting the weight of fear that's tensing the body and the mind. So they could even be in a simple supplying twist and you're just gently talking them through so they can release that even?
Daya: Yes. Yes! Beautiful. It is like the light bulb goes off, and you see it. When they believe and they lift themselves up, it's just being like a -- what do they call a birth mother? The ladies who help...
Caller: The Midwives
Daya: Yeah, the Midwife. Yeah, you're like a midwife to the spiritual self. Yeah.
Fabrizio: Thank you, Daya. I have another question for you, in terms of, you've been doing Yoga for several decades now. I'm wondering how your practice has changed over the years and and what advice you would give to people or what you have learned about the physical practice of yoga? Things to maybe be careful of and to just be aware of and in terms of how they might change as we age inevitably?
Daya: There's a lady in our class who just joined about three, four weeks ago and she had knee surgery. And she's in the phase of getting beyond, or getting to the point or place where she knows there's nothing to fear. She's modifying the poses according to her ability and it's beautiful to watch. She doesn't say I can't do it. She just says, oh I'll just change, and I can do what I can do. And golly! And she does it. When she's done, she says, "Wow, I feel great." So she's not...
I help people not to judge themselves. I remind them not to judge themselves and not to compare themselves with what someone else is able to do in the class. And that makes them feel much freer to do what they can do and that's very helpful for them to know. It's very helpful for anybody to know.
You don't have to judge yourself and you don't have to compare yourself with anybody else, what they can do, because they have a different consciousness about their body and about themself spiritually. And you can't be in their body or in their mind, you just have to be in your own mind.
Fabrizio: I'm wondering as well how, you mentioned both Yoga and music as being important parts of your lives. Have you ever merged the two, into bhakti-yoga, devotional yoga, combining music and Yoga?
Daya: We have, but that's not what we're called really to do, to combine the two of them. But we have done it and we have loved doing it and people have loved, you know, the presentation as well as Yoga. Mostly, at the library, that's where we've done, combined the two of them, at the different libraries here, in and around. We're going to be, for example, we're going to be putting on a concert at the library, the end of September, at the local library. And that's where I teach Yoga as well. This particular libraries, where I teach Yoga. But we're doing the second Saturday, Yoga, and then the last Sunday of the month, we're going to be doing the concert there. So we have done it before, but we don't combine the two of them too much.
Fabrizio: And so what is there left for you to do in the Yoga world? Do you think, do you have another book in the works? Where's your journey taking you?
Daya: I've been asking that question. I haven't gotten an answer yet, but I just keep open to the truth of what I'm to do. And maybe its several weeks off, maybe it's not. I'm not sure. But I'm always open to Divine Direction. It's just so beautiful to listen, to be in prayer, to be in meditation. No matter what you're doing. Like I said, you don't have to be sitting cross-legged with your thumb and index finger together and the other thing is extended. You don't have to be necessarily in a particular posture. Just your spiritual posture has to be on-top, you know, on-purpose.
Fabrizio: Wonderful! Well, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you Daya and thank you, Pavi, and thank you to the callers and listeners, who have participated in this journey collectively. It's been very inspiring to hear how people from the most unexpected walks of life can encounter a practice like Yoga that is so deeply rooted in a completely different culture, if you will and have such a nourishing aspect to your life. And how you're able to turn that around and not only help yourself through the power of Yoga and music but to help others. And so it's been very inspiring and I thank you for sharing a little bit of your journey.
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