Enthusiastically Spiritual

Enthusiastically Embracing the Tao Te Ching with Jessie Kanzer

March 01, 2022 Season 2 Episode 25
Enthusiastically Spiritual
Enthusiastically Embracing the Tao Te Ching with Jessie Kanzer
Show Notes Transcript

Jessie Asya Kanzer who was born in the Soviet Union. At the age of eight, she emigrated with her family to Brooklyn. Her childhood as a Russian immigrant in post-Cold War America heightened her insecurity and threatened her identity, desperate as she was to fit into a culture that was alien at best and hostile at worst. This loss and eventual reclamation of her sense of self sent her on a spiritual journey during which she discovered the Tao Te Ching, which changed everything for her. The Tao taught her that there was power in stillness, and that all struggles come bearing gifts if you know how to recognize them.

She is a writer and former reporter and actress. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Daily News, Wall Street Journal, The Independent, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Ravishly, and Romper. Jessie lives with her two daughters and husband in Dobbs Ferry, NY.

 Insights to add to your spiritual toolbox from this episode:

1.  Losing the world we once knew

2.  Inner trauma from a young age

3.  Inner struggles

4.  Perfect on the outside can be a mess on the inside

5.  Car crash

6.  Bulimia

7.  Tao Te Ching

8.  Only female to interpret the Tao Te Ching

9.  Experience the Tao Te Ching

10. Distinguishing what is your truth

11. Evolution of your soul through change

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Welcome back to Enthusiastically Spiritual podcast. I'm your host Teresa. Finding balance within your life is important. It can help you be more in tune with your energy, work with your inner guidance, and really help you flow with all that comes your way. Finding stillness adds a whole new dimension to life and how you view it. And that's the road. We're going to be going down today with my guest, Jessie Kanzer, who was born in the Soviet Union. At the age of eight she immigrated with her family to Brooklyn. Her childhood as a Russian immigrant in post cold war, America, heightened her insecurity and threatened her identity. Desperate as was to fit into a culture that was alien at best and hostile at worse, this loss and eventual reclamation of herself, sense of self sent her on a spiritual journey during what she discovered the outdating which changed everything for her. The Tao taught her that there was power in stillness, and that all struggles come bearing gifts if you know how to recognize them. She's a writer and former reporter and actress. Her work has appeared on the Washington Post, New York Daily News, Wall Street Journal, The Independent The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, ravishing and romper. Jessie lives with her two daughters and husband in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Welcome, Jesse. Thank you so much for having me. A pleasure. And I am so looking forward to talking about the importance of stillness. Yes, it is a topic that is very relevant in our hyper busy world, right? Without a doubt, and as you're thinking about that, I was thinking like the, the complexity of our intellectual collective consciousness, like is constantly on, it's hard to train it is, it is. And as I told you, I was, I told you before we started recording, I, I messed up my computer, this morning, I spilled tea on it. And I had that moment because there are moments like that we all have moments like that, look, things go wrong, we mess up things every day, it was one of those actually one of those mornings where a lot of things went off. And in my, in my experience, when these kinds of things happen, they're always calling us to look at why we're rushing so much, and look at what we can do differently. So I'm taking my own advice right now and just sitting my butt down and chilling for a little bit. And talking to you is a wonderful way to do it, by the way. Oh, great. And finding that stillness is not easy. So I know you've been on your path for a while. And tell me how you found the Tao Te Ching for yourself. Because there's all kinds of avenues to find, you know, our spiritual practices and how we go about finding these ways that help us in our life. So how did you find in this give us a little insight about that? Sure. And, and you know, my book, by the way, what my book is called, don't just sit there do nothing. Healing, chilling and living with the Tao Te Ching. And the the Do Nothing part is really it really catches some people off guard. They're like, why do you mean do nothing? How do you do nothing. And that to be that whole process of doing less, to be more to be more present to be more whole? It it has been? It has been a theme of my life? Probably since birth. I mean, honestly, since immigration, but I was eight years old, as you said when I immigrated. So that's a that's that's a long time. I'm 40 now the this this trauma of losing the world, you know, and having to figure out everything from scratch and a new world as a child back in a time or and definitely in a culture where child psychology wasn't understood at all. Nobody really talked to like, how are you doing with this? How are you dealing and so all of the hardship that I underwent from the age of eight I did by my by myself, and a lot of it built up. So that when I was a teenager, I was really struggling. I on the external and the external world I was doing well because I have friends. I was the school Jessie now was an Aussie anymore. And I was a newly reinvented person, I'd worked to get rid of my accent. I had, you know, cool clothing and I was getting the best grade so everything was great. On the outside. Inside is where I was really struggling. And I think the same can be true for a lot of people. You know, now I know and I always say to people, that person that looks like they're perfect, they're perfectly put together. Everything's going well. Watch out because they might really be hurting on the inside. You don't know, the more perfect someone looks if you've never seen anyone. Be a mess. They're probably still struggling inside to keep that exterior so perfect. And that's what happened with me. And I ended up with an eating disorder and depression and I was really in a low place. When I graduated college, I had gotten worse, all my own issues. And then I got into this major car crash. And my body was just my body was broken, my spirit was broken, I was on the bathroom floor. Still, even though my body was could barely, you know, move I was still being believing, binging purging, because that's all I knew, I didn't know how to just sit still. I used food food was what I used at that time. Later in life, I used love that was like a love addiction. And, you know, my low point was on that bathroom floor with a broken everything. And I had a lot of books lying around because I was a spiritual searcher, even in my low points. And I reached for this little copy this little pocket sized copy of the Tao de Ching, just because it was near, you know, it was it was it fate was at Fortune, who knows it was right near my bed I reached for it. And I started looking at the simple verses now the DAO was written in sixth century BC. So it's ancient. And it's been translated almost as much as the Bible is the second most translated book in the world. And this translation happened to be so simple and so beautiful. It's a My favorite one, my translation by Steven Mitchell. And I just started looking at verse by verse, they're very simple. And slowly as I started walking more, and I was take walks outside in the cold and just think of a one verse at a time, and they were so simple. The verses themselves are so simple, that they help steal your mind. And that was the beginning of my search of figuring out what was really wrong. Because a lot of times, everything seems okay, so what's really wrong, and that's where the dowel really helped me excavate all of that. Wow, that's a great story. And I love how you found it. Just I mean, that's sometimes how things happen, right? Like, the book jumped out at me or Yeah, wrote, I mean, like, or the billboard said this, like, holy crap. That's exactly what it is that exact moment. It's so crazy. But it's amazing. Well, we're spiritual, right? So we believe I mean, I truly believe that the universe always communicating with us. And we just need to be open to it. Yeah, without a doubt. And most of the time, it's subtle. Yeah. So say that jump out at us or what? Or oh, sometimes I also find out that it's the when I look back at things, I'm like, Oh, my gosh, like all these, you know, things were set up in this for me to find that one thing in my life. So it's amazing. It's amazing. Yeah, it's amazing. Yeah, that's why that's why life is so interesting, because, and yes, you're ready to take sometimes we see it in hindsight, how everything led, but that's actually in Don't just sit there do nothing I write about how, how all of your failures and mistakes brought you to this moment that they had a purpose that they brought you to where you are now that that your difficult times also carry with them lessons that later bring you to great happiness. So I urge people to see that as well. And that's what's really cool with your book is that each chapter begins with one of the one of the little doubts verses in this is yes. And then you go into some of your story as well as sharing more about it correct? Yes, that is absolutely correct. I use so the Tao Te Ching itself has 81 versus some of them are repetitive, not in a bad way in a great way where they bring the same point. So what I did is I wanted this to be it's my own story. It's a story. It's a it's an encouragement of others to look at their story, and to see how their story can help them heal. But it's also an introduction to the Tao Te Ching. So I used 47 of my favorite verses, I wanted to capture all of the points of doubt a Ching brings up and so I I use these 47 verses. And I, I went through many, many translations, like dozens of translations. And I put together translations where I took like, one line from one maybe another line so that I could give a holistic introduction to the dowel. And then then I would give my own takeaway that I that is my takeaway from this verse. And then I wrote an essay a story, an observation with a do your Tao section at the end of each chapter. That gives folks a takeaway that they may want to try themselves so you actually do the dowel. So you actually yeah, incorporated into your life instead of just, you know, because I think and I find this a lot with, there's so much great information out there too much almost right? Like where content is everywhere. And I thought it would be nice The Tao says that the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. In other words like words, words, don't teach words just point us to truth. So I wanted to give someone some something to everyone that they can try for themselves and experience it. And I say like in the introduction that, you know, maybe not all the exercises are for you, but you try them. And if something works for you, then you, then you stick with it, some of them are just shifted perception. And I wanted folks to experience that rather than just read about it. Right. And through experience at this, in each chapter, that's how you really come to that stillness is working with the techniques you have in each chapter, correct. Yes, and some of them are about stillness of the body, right, like meditation, or just sitting and breathing, but some of them are about stillness of the mind and stillness. You know, when we think stillness, we think that we say the the title, don't just sit there do nothing, you think like, oh, you're just gonna sit and do nothing. That's not actually the point. The point is, when you can turn off all that external messaging, all those voices that aren't your own, and you're able to distinguish what is actually your own voice, what is actually your own truth, then you can start living an aligned life. And when I walk around, and I, in my own personal life with friends and family, and sometimes with strangers, I really sometimes I feel that most people live lives of quiet desperation. And you see it and I just, I have this urge to scream at the top of my lungs, that it doesn't have to be this way, that if you were able to find that stillness, that we're talking about that stillness, where you block out everything that is in your internal truth, your your connection to your higher self to spirit, if you're able to do that for just moments a day, your entire life will change. Right? For sure. And I want to talk about that word change. Because to me, change is constant. I mean, that's one of the things we know we're born, we know we're going to die. And between all that constant change ever, you know, and evolvement, right, or evolution of your soul throughout the whole lifetime. And so a lot of people right now are having a hard time with change. Because the what we are looking at now every single day is not what it looked like yesterday, or what looked like last week or last month, and definitely not last year. So moving forward in our evolution as souls it's so important to aspect of, you know, embracing that stillness in whatever form it looks like for you because of the fact that and the fact that change is constant. And we all have to be immersed in it. Yes, I couldn't agree with you more. And in fact, there's different teachers. Neale Donald Walsch is the he wrote Conversations with God, I studied with him personally for a while actually. And he says, which I love, he says God is change. Life is changed like that the that we think change is something outside of us. But we are change, we ourselves are changed, because one second to the next we change like our cells are. So understanding that not that change is not even separate from us. It is us like, there is no actual that's why stillness. It's really. And this is another reason I love the Tao Te Ching, it brings up all these paradoxes. That is why my title is paradoxical. Don't just sit there do nothing. Well, how do you do that? The, the stillness we talk about is just really another word. Another way of looking at it is just presence. Because in presence in stillness, you see that you're actually always changing, that everything's always changing. But in presence, you're able to just be with it. So to flow with it, the Dallas talks a lot about that to flow with life, instead of it's like pushing the boulder up the hill or flowing with life, which would be easier. And that doesn't mean that everything is always great, right. Like, we still have mishaps, we still break our computers, we still have we you know, but we experience grief we have, there's no easy life. But there is a way to be more easeful with it. And as you said, embracing change is one of IT. And especially especially the changes that we can't control, there's a lot of changes that are happening right now. That if we if we hone in on them look very negative, for example, but we do not get to see the bigger picture. And in fact, if I if, for example, in my story, if you just looked at a car accident that, you know, that just stopped me in my tracks and I had this brain injury and whatever, you know, it looks so terrible. Like why would this car accident happened to me but in hindsight when I step away from it, I see its purpose. And I say actually in my book I say I I think that perhaps the pandemic is a is a car crash of sources. It's our society's car crash. And we don't know what it's bringing to us. We don't know. Like, there are a lot of hardships right now I get it. And some people are suffering more than others. But we don't see the bigger picture. You know, like, the things that are looking so negative Now, they're not some of these things aren't even new. It's just that we're able to see things more clearly. People are really uncomfortable, I think, because, in a way, the illusions have been lifted, or are being lifted. And we see how tenuous everything is how tenuous our governments are how tenuous society that we build how how that we thought everything was a given that the way things work or the way is the way things work. And now we understand that nothing's guaranteed, right? Without a doubt, who you are, what you're here to do. And I know from this event that we've all been going through the last couple of years is that there's been a lot of good things that have come out of it. So like you saying, the car crash, and down the road, as we start healing, and maybe in a car crash, maybe some of us were in a coma during it, maybe some just broke a little bone. Maybe some just got jostled a little bit inside, and it's okay, and keep moving forward. Because I've seen also seen different variations of what people have gone through, like you said, I mean, though, some people have experienced people who passed away and, but all of these things also are a component of what we deal with every day in life. We deal with death, we deal with birth, we deal with, you know, ups and downs every single day. Yes, I agree so much with you. And we've all had, you know, I do have friends who have lost parents, and this is, this is not this is not to downplay how horrible this has been. For a lot of people, but like I said earlier, with every hardship, there is a gift. And, and I agree with you completely, that positive things came out of it the the understanding that, hey, maybe we weren't packing our schedules too much, maybe we were packing our kids schedules too much. You know, what was amazing is to see how well the kids did when they had no school and nothing. You think, you know, we had a hard time the kids were having a I mean, they miss they were depending on the age, some kids really miss their friends and everything. But I really took away from it that we perhaps have been over scheduling our children, and not giving them enough of the free time. And maybe that's free time that they was forced to have. Maybe we can incorporate it as a norm. Now, as we move forward. And maybe this togetherness that we got to experience with our family, each one of us like maybe, maybe we need to do that more. And I think I think work is changing, the nature of work is changing so much because people don't want to be in an office 24/7 They don't they don't want to be there every day till six o'clock or whatever, not 24/7 but you know, even 40 hours a week, like maybe there needs to be more flexibility. Maybe parents should be able to work from home some days. And there's a lot of there's a lot of maybes being opened up for us, I think without a doubt as well as the veil, like you said being lifted. And people really coming into the reality of oh, this is what it really looks like because I do feel that people have kind of been well, it's funny for years, like, you know, zombie movies. And I'm like, Yeah, I want some I'm not a fan of all I'm like, ya know what, I go out into the world, honestly. Yeah. Wow. And I see zombies driving cars, I see dogs, right, right once and right state or, I should say maybe was in that state, because I really feel like this is, well, there's probably still some people in that state too. But, but it was more prevalent before really was big shakeup, or at least what I was noticing out in the world and like, oh, we live in a zombie world. Just look around. You're so right. And this is what I'm talking about that when I said like most people live lives of quiet desperation. Because they're not even here. They're not even like, like an I live now at this point. You know, I went through different different periods of my life. I had real poverty as part of my life because I was a refugee. You know, food was scars, like I understand food insecurity. And I really understand what it's like not to have. And I think that that's a different set of problems. It's like Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Like, you know, those set of problems, I think were really also shown us, you know, the disparity, the disparity and economic disparity, the racial disparity, I think we got to see it very clearly during this pandemic. And, you know, I personally don't always know what we can do about it. But I now expect the people that I elect into office, there's expectations that maybe it was easier not to look at certain realities before. Now we have to, and I think the zombie zombies that you're talking about is, it was a lot of us, all of us in some ways, not looking at what is and just kind of going through robotically through the mode of life like first we do a, then we do B, then we do see though G, then we go to sleep, and we do it all over again. And that's, that's a bit shaken up. And that's a good thing. I agree to, as well as I think to this is make a lot of people are more, maybe getting more back in their bodies or having to recognize how to get back in their bodies, because they haven't been in their bodies for a long time. Yes, that's a good point. And, you know, I see, unfortunately, I do see people for who wanted to get back to normal, normal, quote, unquote, so quickly, that they have they're trying, they're trying to stuff their schedules again, they're very busy, they're running, you know, not everyone, not everyone's willing to take the lesson. And that's fine. But I have said this to friends and that the universe speaks to you and whispers and then it speaks to you and shouts. This is not my quote, this is Oprah Winfrey sent this, but it's a look, we're all been been given a kick in the butt. We don't all have to take the message. And if but the beauty of the universe is this, if you don't take the message, you'll be given another kick. Yes. Like, like, right, you will, you know, whatever it is that you have to learn in this in this lifetime in this, in this, in this human form you you will be given that opportunity over and over again. There's no missed opportunity. So if you're not ready, if someone's not ready to take a look at their lives and figure out how they can find for example, more quietude, more stillness, more spaciousness, I always say like spaciousness to like, you cram everything in, then you don't have space to breathe. If you're not ready for now, something else will happen. And something else will happen until you're forced. That's the car crash, for sure. And I love that space to breathe, because that's where I'm at, too. I've been doing so much. It's like, I just need to breathe, I really need space. And then once I've given myself a bit of space, I recognize how much more insights come in, how much more grounded I am more focused, and more like in the moment. So it's amazing having that time and really giving yourself that ability to have stillness, breath, you know, awareness of just having it just like where you're at in the universe and your space, right? Yes. And I tell people all the time, it doesn't have to be look, I meditate I do because I need it. Like it I'm my happiness as a human depends on my ability to just shut everything off. And you know what, I don't know what happens. I spilled tea on my computer. I'm not joking. Like, I get it. Like I'm in a place where I, I don't like everything that happens, but I get why certain things happen. I get how my rushing around. As an example, my rushing around, made me play something in a bad place that made you know, it's like, it's like, we, we create a lot of our problems as humans. And I am willing, every time something stops me in my track, and I lose my computer, whatever I get it. I'm like, okay, alright, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I have plans, I had things that I needed to do. I had things I started on, they're gonna put that aside gonna come back to me. And I say this to folks, look, not everyone's been on this road. For decades, I get that. But everyone can take a moment. Just close their email browser, take a moment, sit, close their eyes and breathe deeply. And an inhale and exhale feels so delicious. And we realize, you know, if you take like a deep inhale and a long exhale, you'll realize how not mindfully you've been breathing most of the day. Without a doubt, right? And it feels so good. And it's just a moment. And so you take those moments throughout the day, so that you bring more mindfulness into your life. And then, and then you become less reactive, which is what mindfulness ultimately accomplishes. It you can become you get a pause between stimulus and response, you're able to take that breath so that you're not responsive so that you can calculate your responses to even pleasant stimuli, unpleasant situations. Well, I think, Jess, that your book is a very timely book. I think it's much needed. I hope it has great success. I know it's coming out March 1 of 2022. And again, it's called Don't just sit there do nothing, healing, chilling and living with the Tao Te Ching. And it sounds so amazing. I cannot wait to get it because it's immersed with your your flair, your vibration, your uniqueness of where we're at today in the world and what we need to embrace in order to get that stillness for us. That's exactly true. And if I may have just one more thing that I wanted to say this, this book comes out on the first day of women's history month. And I thought that was so synchronistic. Because this happens to be the first book, where a woman takes the Tao Te Ching and applies it to her life to the modern life of, you know what happens to and it's not it's not a book just for women. But this is the first interpretation of the dowel by a woman. And I thought that was an interesting thing. I happened to be the woman, I was not, you know, I just fell in love with this ancient text. But I do think that's important because in history, a lot of philosophical texts were reserved for men to to look at and intellectualize and discuss and blah, blah, blah. And it's nice to, you know, it's nice to have to be the woman to take a woman search and very, very approachable. Like, even though it's an old, ancient philosophical texts that this book is approachable, it's approachable stories. I have a lot of humiliating moments in there. And it's, it's stuff that I think most most modern folks can relate to. will resonate with big time, right? Yeah, yes, exactly. Because I was looking at some of the chapter titles and I was like, Oh, my gosh, these are awesome. Yeah, it'll be fun. It's fun. It's not. It's fun. I think that we often forget in the spiritual world world, that enlightenment is also about lightening up. That's not it. This is not a chore. This should be fun. There, there are some difficulties when it comes to spiritual awakening, you know that, but I wanted this experience to be a fun one for folks. I love that because there are so many variations of spirituality that are not that fun. It's like you have some fun, bring some enthusiasm in it or you know, like, like you said, lighten up. Because, I mean, life is so difficult as it is, it's like, you know, I mean, our souls are enthusiastic to be here. So embrace that. Yes. And we have so many shirts, everything's a shirt. And there's so many I don't want to like, you know, them not looking down on self help writers are. But there's a lot of books that like if you do this, if you follow this program, exactly, you'll be happy. And the beauty of the dowel, which translates as The way is, each person has to find their own way. There's no shoulds love that. I see it as like opening up and just finding Ah, that's what I need to hear today. Cuz that's kind of what you did when you found the book right on the floor. Next. Yes, yes, exactly what happened? This is Jesse needs at this moment. So I am super excited to read this book, Jesse and get my hands on. Thank you so much. Thank you. And yes, like they said it could be it could be like, you could read one, you know, one chapters, each chapter is very short. You can read a couple of pages a day. And that will that's what you deal with. That's what you analyze take away with you for the next couple of days. That's fine. Thank you so much. It sounds wonderful. And I will have all the information in the show notes on how to get that. I mean, I'm assume it's game on Amazon probably on your website. It already is it already is by the way it is in there. It's going to be there it is there. So anywhere, anywhere books are sold anywhere and everywhere books are sold and all the show notes and information on you. I'm in the show notes so that people can get a hold of you and check you out in social media. And again, Jesse, a pleasure. Thank you so much for coming on today. Thank you for having me.