Janet Attwood, NYT Bestselling Author of The Passion Test

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“The world is as you are.”Janet Attwood

 

Q: What experiences put you on your spiritual path?

A: I have always been drawn to spirituality and yet, I wasn’t always living a spiritual life. In my teens, I was strung out on drugs. I took so much LSD that if they had given me a brain scan, it would have come out paisley! I was taking psychedelics because I thought they were my path to enlightenment. After a year of taking them, I realized they were my path to nowhere. During that time I was living in a commune, and someone walked into the commune holding an album with an Indian man on the cover. When I looked at the cover, I knew that that Indian man and I would someday meet. The Indian man was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation Program, otherwise known simply as TM.  Not long after I saw Maharishi’s picture I stopped taking drugs and learned how to meditate, and that really was the beginning of the best part of my life.

Q: How did this experiences change you?

A: Seeing a master will change anyone because there is so much wisdom, silence, and inner happiness emanating from them. Of course, real change comes from within. So when I learned how to meditate, I became more healthy, peaceful, and centered. This is because what happens in meditation is that you gain a deep state of rest. Research has shown that what we all need in order to enjoy life is to be rested, to be less stressed. Research has also found that the only thing that releases stress is deep rest. This stress colors your existence. When you release the stress through meditation, you start to see the world as it really is, which is an incredibly abundant and beautiful world.

Q: What has been the most challenging part of your path?

A: The most challenging time was when I was taking drugs. When I stopped taking drugs and started mediating, life became a lot more effortless. The world is as you are. If you are disconnected from yourself, then you’re disconnected from the rest of the world. This shows up in all kinds of ways. When you don’t see the world clearly, you don’t make good decisions. When you don’t make good decisions, your life suffers.

Q: What is your earliest childhood memory? Why do you remember it?

A: I remember my dad bringing home an old man named Wick who lived by himself and was very lonesome. I appreciated so much that my dad had enough love in him to recognize that this man needed a family—and for creating a family for him within our own. I also remember my dad inviting the kids down the street over for breakfast on Sundays. My two best friends were sisters named Patsy and Kathy. Their mom used to beat them daily. They had a really miserable life. My dad knew about their mom beating them and he always made sure that Patsy and Kathy spent their Sunday mornings with us. I love how my dad noticed what they needed and gave that loving kindness to them. It was the same with my mom.  It was those memories that shaped me and served as reminders of how to be in the world.

Q: Who have been some of your mentors? What have you learned from them?

A: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has always been my first and most important teacher. His effortless technique of Transcendental Meditation has been a process that I use every single day. Byron Katie is my other great mentor. I love her process called “The Work” because it gets rid of any limiting beliefs we have. Through her work, Katie shows us that the only thing that gets in the way of anyone being present in the moment and “loving what is” is their false beliefs. These false beliefs cause us to view others and ourselves in ways that are out of touch with reality and cause us pain, separation, and suffering. Whenever I become aware that I’m unhappy about a person, situation or thing, I use Katie’s process to turn those thoughts around so I can see that the story I was telling myself was worse than the reality.

Katie says that every moment is a gift and the only things that get in the way of any of us being able to see life as this great gift are our false beliefs, false ideas, and false concepts. Therefore, when anything brings you pain and/or separation, if you use this simple process of self-inquiry, you will be able to turn those thoughts around and, again, see that the gift was always there.

One of my passions was to travel the world interviewing the greatest masters in the world. In the last five years, I have interviewed around one hundred masters. I would definitely say that Byron Katie is as awake as the most enlightened masters. For any Master Trainer of my Passion Test Certification Program, it is a pre-requisite for all of them to go to Katie’s school for The Work.

Q: What is the greatest challenge facing society?

A: Ignorance of our divine nature and belief in the idea that we are separate from one another, that we exist in isolation. When we believe that we are separate, then everything becomes mirrored by this reality.  It becomes an “all about me” world. Problems in society arise simply because people do not know that at our very core, we are all unified. Quantum physics talks about this unified field that underlies all of creation and that we are all parcel and part of this unified field.

When we believe we are “separate,” then we come from a consciousness of lack and limitation and it shows up in all kinds of ways that do not promote healthy living for the individual and for society. Maharishi has a great answer to the world’s problems—meditate to raise the consciousness of society. The collective practice of meditating together two times a day not only raises the consciousness of the people meditating, but research from Yale, Harvard, Stanford, and other top colleges suggests that it also raises the collective consciousness of society.

Q: If you had thirty seconds with someone in an elevator, what three things would you tell him or her to do to be joyful, peaceful, and whole?

A: First thing I would tell them is to learn how to meditate. Life is here to enjoy. The simple practice of meditating twice a day gives an individual a deep state of rest, and from that rested state all kinds of wonderful things start to occur. On the level of the mind, when the mind is clear, people start to “do less and accomplish more.” When an individual is more rested, the body is refreshed, they have more energy, more vitality. When there is more energy, people become happier. When people become happier, they are more loving to others. It sets off a wonderful chain of positive events.

The second thing I would tell them to do is use Byron Katie’s simple process called, “The Work” to get rid of any limiting beliefs. And the last thing I would tell them to do is take The Passion Test™ and then choose in favor of their passions. The secret to living a passionate life is simply that whenever you are faced with a choice, a decision, or an opportunity, choose in favor of your passions.

Q: How would you respond to those who say it’s more important to love others than yourself; that the true path to loving yourself is through loving others first?

A: How can you love anyone if you don’t love yourself? Is it easy to love humanity when you feel disconnected? For me, the answer is “never.” All love is connected to the self. I meet no one but me. That’s my experience. When I am connected, then it’s effortless to love. When I am not connected, then how can I feel anything? From fullness comes fullness. It’s that simple. Gandhi said it best when he said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Q: How do you balance planning with remaining open to unexpected opportunity?

A: I spoke at an event with the Dalai Lama last week. For events like these, I have to plan. However, if I drive to the airport and miss my flight, then I know I’m not supposed to get on it. So I make plans and then let go. I surrender, knowing that every moment is going to deliver exactly what I need.

Q: What books or resources have you found particularly helpful?

A:

  • Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Science of Being and Art of Living
  • Loving What Is: Four Questions that Can Change Your Life, by Byron Katie
  • The Speed of Trust, by Stephen Covey
  • The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life, by Lynne Twist

I also, of course, recommend the The Passion Test™—The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose, by Chris Attwood and me. The Passion Test™ is great for helping people align with their passions, which are the clues to their destiny, their purpose. All of us have a desire to give, but we can only give from what we have. The Passion Test™ gets people clear on what they care about most. When they connect with that, then life becomes a divine experience of effortless giving.

Q: What would you like to be written on your tombstone or said about you after you die?

A: That I lived a passionately happy, committed life in service to humanity.

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