Donna Quesada: What would be the right way to use that kind of anger?
Chameli Ardagh: Yes. Now, what I…what I want to clarify is, of course, that there are different paths and practices with different people and circumstances. So, sometimes it can be very, very helpful to cultivate the shiva aspect, the witness in the container because that can provide that safe holding—a capacity to not just get spinned into drama all the time. But, for many woman that I practice with…they come from more masculine paths, and they have, as a result, kind of amputated a big part of their life force to try to fit in to a more calm expression of consciousness.
For example, Buddha, or many teachers you see. The very calm, very still. And, it’s a beautiful aspect of consciousness. But, for me, when I met the goddesses, that was like a whole rainbow of expression of a way of consciousness. And they look more like me. Some are like pissed off! They were horny, you know, they were longing, they were mother, there were so many flavors of consciousness. And that gave me the freedom to stop trying to squeeze myself into one flavor, which I think is a crime against spiritual seekers, but also specifically women. So, for me to meet the goddesses was like looking into a mirror. And I could recognize all those parts that I had pushed down in the basement, in the name of spirituality. I had learned that is not holy, and now, here it all can come back into the wholeness, into the mother.
DONNA: But yet, with that temperance force that you called shiva, which is so interesting.
CHAMELI: Yeah, it has to be both. It has to be both. If not, it’s just drama. And for some women, it’s not that everybody is going to be angry all the time. For some, that may be a feeling that they may never be comfortable with. We all have history around…maybe somebody has experienced violence or… But we are liberating it from habitual tracks of resistance, or lashing out to drama. And we are liberating that energy back to being part of a reservoir of creativity.
And also, our capacity to speak up, or to set boundaries, or even…sometimes be that woman, that hysterical woman, that too much woman, that woman…that archetype that we feel uncomfortable around. But, that is also a quality that is needed for evolution. And there’s a great conspiracy in our spirituality, and in our society, of how many ideas that we have adopted around woman’s desire, about women’s anger, about what’s acceptable and what’s not and how much we…Everybody has internalized this, and agreed and participated in those beliefs. And, you know, I have experienced so many times being in the room where women accessed their energy, their life force, and I can understand why we fear it so much…because it’s tremendous. It’s a tremendous force of change and creativity…of intelligence. Yeah.
DONNA: You mentioned that you started in advaita, the advaita Indian practice of spirituality. May I ask, is there something that happened in your journey, or in your work, or in your individual life, that made you realize that you needed to switch gears and work towards female empowerment?
CHAMELI: Yes. For me, it was a very specific point. And that was when the airplane hit Manhattan, 9-11. That was a big shift for me. I was in Norway at the time, but I remember I watched it on TV. And for me, what happened was, it felt like I was pushed into a corner, where I had to face a mirror. And I saw that I had been so blessed in my life. I had grown up in Norway, which is an incredible, safe society. I had met teachers on the spiritual path very early, so I had all the tools. I had all the resources available to me.
And then I looked at my personal relationship at the time, and I was in drama. I was in drama, in power games. One can say that I was in warfare in my own home. And then I saw…I looked at myself in the mirror, and it was so embarrassing. It was very uncomfortable and humiliating. And I saw, how can there be peace in the world, when I, who have all the tools and have been given everything, can’t have peace in my own home?
When I was in India with my teacher I was like, “super holy.” When I was in relationship, you know, all the old patterns of my parents…everything was just activated again. So, I felt that there was a split between my inner realization and the way I lived my life. And that moment, I thought, this is not okay. It’s not okay for me to live in that split. And so, I took… like, it was like a sense of taking a stand, or committing to…I’m going to find a way to embody the big love in my heart. And it… I don’t know how to do that, especially not in relationship. I remember I shaved my head. I thought, now I’m going to stay alone for the rest of my life, but I was like…if I am going to fail the rest of my life, it is going to be a glorious failure because finally, I am now living aligned with what is really true and important in my heart. So, take a stand and jump two feet in, to that commitment.
I even married it. I’m married to this for life. This is what I’m here for. That was successful in itself, no matter what the result because I finally came into the track that felt fully true to me. It was a longing that has been here since I was a child, but it was kinda kidnapped by the spiritual ideas that my longing was to get out of here It wasn’t. Mine was to get more and more here. That’s my longing. So, that shifted everything for me. Ever since then, you know…at that point, I didn’t know how to do it. But, that is also how we sometimes postpone to commit. We sit on the fence and we try to figure out the steps. But, what I realized was that once I jumped off the fence, two feet in, that’s when a thousand doors opened. And those doors didn’t exist when I was on the fence, so, it would be futile to sit and figure out how to do it because the how comes into existence, once we commit. And the yogic map we call it the strong shakti. It’s one of the three building blocks of the universe. It’s how energy manifests into form, and commitment is one of them. And we often times skip that one because we are so afraid it’s the wrong choice or something. But, my experience was, Wow! Then everything started to open up for me, and it actually has never stopped, ever since.
DONNA: That’s really lovely because it bridges the gap between our individual role as a conscious person, and our collective role as a conscious person. And you’re saying, there’s really no sense dividing between the two; they take care of themselves, together, once we commit individually.
CHAMELI: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. And, this is ongoing, like I said in the beginning, this ongoing process…because that fuel will burn through so many blind spots. There’s so many places where… where consciousness is not.
DONNA: So, it’s a matter of being committed in one’s heart and inner self…what one is here for?
CHAMELI: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Then we are aligning with… you know, the kind of creative force that makes a seed. The little sprout breaks out of the seed, moving to the dark, not knowing where it’s going, but it’s an incredible willpower to become, to become what it is supposed to become. And once we align ourselves with our dharma, with that thread that we have in the big tapestry, the more fulfilled…we live what we are here to live. And it’s not dependent on later success or form It’s successful in itself.
DONNA: Well, that sounds like empowerment, to me! Now, of course, it sounds easier than it is. In reality, we fall into our own…Those frozen blocks, on a daily basis…because people push our buttons, and the world pushes our buttons. And we do have fears, and we do have challenges, and we are busy. And so what, first of all…what is your daily practice?If you would share that with us? And what would be an idea of a daily practice that someone could do to move toward that kind of empowerment?
CHAMELI: Mhmm. Well, the dharma, or your thread in the big tapestry, is not something that you have to find or cultivate, it is something that is here already. It’s what… what has moved you since you were born. So, it is a practice of intimacy. It is a practice to come really, very, very close to what is important in your heart. What is it that makes your heart…you know, beat faster? It is an intimacy. And it is a kind of radical loyalty to the uniqueness of you, which is hard for us. Because that energy has been frozen into tracks of comparing ourselves, even from when we are very small, we are told what we should be. So this is like, Ah, I have to kind of risk that I’m not a mistake.
I remember that, after 9/11…that period, I was having this incredible longing to give words to the goddess…to give the feminine, voice. And it was so many aspects of me that was saying, Who, me? You know, Little, wounded me, from Bergen, Norway, who had all this background childhood… Like, Oh my God, how can I be instrument of all of this? How can this matter? But, then I saw that little flame that is in my heart, of what I love. That’s what I am the leader of…that nobody can be the leader of that. And if don’t, if I put it aside, then well, it’s not going to exist here in the universe. So, it was to risk that I am not a mistake. My background is not a mistake, and with shaking legs and dry mouth…just rooting myself deeper and deeper into that…that which I am serving, more than my personal fears, and limitations, and ideas.
And the other side of that, is also, Oh, I have to be special… I have to be perfect, in order…That’s also just another box that is way too small, compared to that which wants to, you know, live through us all the time.
DONNA: Is meditation necessary? To get to that clarity?
CHAMELI: Well, I don’t think it…Well, for me it is, I love… I love meditation. I have a background in vipassana meditation. I sit silently, and I really love that. And for many, many women…especially that has a very alive emotional body…they would very much benefit to have the meditation. For me, meditation and devotion is necessary. The devotion has been a path for me, of getting out of my own way. It keeps me humble. And when I keep humble…but the paradox is then, greater and greater energy and teachings can come through. Because it’s not really about me being special, or all of those things. So, devotion keeps me clear. Keeps the channel clear. And, I’m very clear what I am serving. And, that’s like a daily source of strength and inspiration, which is not dependent on me feeling good, or not. Like, that’s actually not essential, when it comes to you…how deep does roots goes for me. And like,I’m leading large events in large organization. But, at the core of it all, it is a very intimate relationship, in my heart, with me, and what I call Goddess. That’s where my focus and loyalty is always, and that’s also where I gather the strength.
DONNA: That’s beautiful about not needing to feel good necessarily. So many people have this false idea about a spiritual journey, that you’re going to be positive all the time as you conquer all the shadows. It’s not about that, is it?
CHAMELI: No, no. Again, life is full of suffering, also. I mean, everybody…we’re gonna lose someone.We’re going to be old. We’re going to die, ourselves. The Goddess… especially, the dark Goddess, who symbolizes that aspect of the life-death cycle… sometimes, we think we have to understand her, or find the silver lining of the positive with her. But, her gift is more that she is. Her is-nessis her initiation into a belonging, and a wholeness in this world, which we cannot experience as long as we fragment, and say, Oh, that’s acceptable and that’s not. Because it’s… everything darkness and light is both here. Death and life are both here. The more we can align and open our consciousness to embrace the paradox of that…it doesn’t have to feel good. Or,we don’t have to find it good or positive even, but it is. And the is-ness? It’s the deliberation.
DONNA: Chameli, in our last few minutes, is there anything that you’d like to share with those who will be watching this interview, and how can they find you? And, if there are any women out there who would like to join the women’s circles, how can they find out more about that?
CHAMELI: Yes, you can go to AwakeningWomen.com. We’re just in the process of creating a new website, but maybe it’s becoming live before you. We have retreats…we have silent retreats, ashram retreats in India and Greece, every year. Month long retreats. We also have trainings in how to lead a women’s group, and start a women’s group where you live. We also have online 21 day sadhanas; we call it “Goddess sadhanas.”That is twice a year, and also some of them, you can do on your own: self-study. So, all of this, you will find at AwakeningWomen.com.
CHAMELI: Mhmm. Awakening Women.
DONNA: So, once again,we’ve been talking to Chameli Ardagh. Did I say your name correctly?
DONNA: Oh good!
CHAMELI: Oh, it’s actually very good! It’s not always.
DONNA: I messed it up with your husband! I want to thank you again for sharing this time with us. I personally find your work fascinating and I enjoyed your talks every much in preparing for this. So, it’s been a pleasure to spend this hour with you!
CHAMELI: Thank you.Thank you for enlightening me!
DONNA: Thank you!
Read and watch Part I Here: Embracing Into The fire Of Presence
Read and watch Part II Here: We Are Part Of A Collective Unfolding