Series 2

The Sha-Manic Episode

If you believe as I do, that the purpose of our own individual trials is to overcome them so that you can show others the way … then you will love this Wyse Women podcast.

Nikki Slade first experimented with drink and drugs as a teenager, but it was during her career as a talented actress and musician based around London that she became an addict. At the height of her addiction in 1989 she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for an episode of psychosis (which she now understands was a profound spiritual emergence/sha-manic episode.) Thankfully it was also at this point in her life that she had found comfort and solace in the healing power of mantra and chanting … a practice which Nikki feels liberated her from her addiction.

Now, 30 years clean, Nikki is the UK’s number 1 western style Kirtan leader who is passionate about helping others to free their inner voices through chanting … and in this podcast she courageously shares her journey in the hope that it helps others to uncover the greatest expressions of who they are too.

Show Notes

In this podcast you will learn:
  • How Nikki defines addiction and how her own addictions began and escalated
  • About Nikki’s spiritual emergence/sha-manic episode
  • Why Nikki is sharing her story on this podcast and in her own book ‘The Healing Power of Chanting.’
  • The history of chanting/mantra and why chanting/mantra is so powerful
  • How you can begin chanting (even if you aren’t a good singer)
  • Nikki’s answers to my three quick fire questions, her most influential male mentor, her favourite words of wisdom and the song that sums up her story
  • PLUS Nikki also sings live on this podcast and shares one of her most powerful recorded mantras with us too.
My stand-out quote from this podcast

‘When we come together and chant with a group we actually experience oneness and oneness is what we are all trying to get back to, and the irony is that many of the great spiritual masters say that the true home inside is already attained. So in a practice like Kirtan we are remembering where we already dwell and when you have a room full of people all together remembering where they have innately dwelt infinitely forever, we all realise we all come from the same one and then we glimpse that, not just from the level of thought but from the level of a beautiful opening of the heart … and then we cry with joy.‘ – Nikki Slade

nikki-slade-kirtan
Click cover to buy Nikki’s book
Praise for Nikki's book

‘What an amazing person Nikki is. I love her honesty when describing her journey.’ – Astrid

‘Author’s openness about herself gives a feeling of freedom, frees the reader of his/her false shame.’ – Paul

‘I personally related to Nikki’s journey on many levels and admire her raw honesty.’ – Vembley

Related Podcasts ...

If you enjoyed this podcast with Nikki, you may also be interested to know that next month (April 2020) I will be talking to Grammy nominated Deva Premal about The Gayatri Mantra. 

A mantra that she sang to her father as he was taking his last breath (which incidentally was the same mantra he sang to her while she was in her mothers womb.)

You may also like to listen/listen again to Elle Arthur’s podcast. Elle is a yogi living in Bali who shared her wisdom about The Power of Mantra in Series 1 of Wyse Women. 

'Nikki’s kirtan has the power to explode love in the room, take a chant soaring to the skies, and draw tears of love from everyone who participates. I love the smoky depth of her voice, and the fullness and intensity she brings to this practice.'
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Sally Kempton
Author

The #Ecocide Friendship

jojo mehta

The Guardian newspaper called Polly Higgins ‘one of the most inspiring figures in the green movement’ but on Easter Sunday last year at the age of 50, she passed away after a short battle with lung cancer. Polly was a successful lawyer who abandoned a courtroom career to lead a decade-long campaign for a law called “ecocide” to be recognised as an international crime. 

‘Ecocide is extensive loss, damage or destruction of ecosystems, in laypersons terms; serious harm to the natural living world.’

In this podcast the co-founder of the Stop Ecocide campaign Jojo Mehta talks to me about Polly’s legacy and Jojo also shares her wisdom on how she has handled her own personal grief at the loss of one of her closest friends. Wisdom that is universal to anyone who has a close friend in spirit.

Show Notes

In this podcast you will learn:
  • About the moment Polly realised that Mother Earth needed a lawyer
  • How seriously Polly took her mission
  • How Polly’s illness began and her response to her diagnosis
  • About the day Polly died and her spiritual presence at the Extinction Rebellion on Easter Sunday
  • How Jojo compartmentalised her relationship with Polly and how only recently has she grieved the deep friendship they shared
  • More about how you can join the #stopecocide campaign and become an Earth Protector
  • … and Jojo’s answers to my three quick fire questions, her most influential male mentor, her favourite words of wisdom and the song that sums up her story.
My stand-out quote from this podcast:

‘She [Polly] also had this amazing effect on people, I mean the number of people I’ve met in the last few months who have sort of confessed to me that they kind of fell in love with her when they met her and you know that might not necessarily have meant romantically but she had this extraordinarily inspirational effect on people where she would have a conversation with them and they would turn their whole lives around. She was always incredibly feminine and terribly sexy as well, just extraordinarily warm with a strong feminine presence and I think in that way … a wonderful role model for what a woman can be in a man’s world.’  – Jojo Mehta

Background Information

Click image of JoJo above to find out more about Ecocide and how you can become an ‘Earth Protector’ and watch Polly’s TED talk below to get maximum enjoyment from this Wyse Woman podcast.

Related Podcasts

If you enjoyed Jojo’s podcast you may like to listen/listen again to Mandy Haggith’s podcast from Series 1. Mandy lives a self sufficient life in harmony with nature in a cabin in the woods in Scotland. 

'The destruction of the earth is a crime and it should be prosecuted.'
george_monbiot
George Monbiot
Journalist, The Guardian

The Ashram

Most women can relate to the experience of leaving behind a much loved relationship, a career or even a place they called home because a new chapter in their lives needed to unfold. Perhaps it is something that is happening to you right now? Well hopefully my Wyse Women guest can offer you some inspiration and guidance, because at the age of 60 she left the life she had led for 30 years to start a career in the public eye. 

That in itself is a story worth hearing, however what makes this women’s story even more remarkable is that the life Sally Kempton had been leading up until that point was a deeply spiritual one, because in the early 1970’s Sally became the full time student of the enlightened Siddha master, Swami Muktananda. She traveled with him, edited many of his books, and received intensive training which led to her being initiated as a swami (or monk) herself and serving as a teacher in the Siddha Yoga meditation community.

In this podcast Sally who is now an international meditation teacher and author talks to me about life in the ashram, her difficult decision to leave … and she shares her wisdom about how preparation and staying centered is the key to smooth life transitions.

Image: sallykempton.com

Show Notes

In this podcast you will learn:
  • How Sally came to live in an ashram with her guru and why she left
  • What a guru is and what the word guru means
  • Sally’s wisdom for all women who are facing a big life transition 
  • More about Sally’s books
  • … and Sally’s answers to my three quick fire questions, her most influential male mentor, her favourite words of wisdom and the song that sums up her story.
My stand-out quote from this podcast:

I have always said that if you are going to be a spiritual teacher and you don’t have a guru then life itself is going to destroy your ego one way or another. As you can see from all the gurus who are doing really good work and suddenly they do something transgressive and they are smashed in a context that’s not safe.’ – Sally Kempton

Book Reviews

Review 'Meditation for the Love of it'

I have read a lot of books on meditation but this book took me to new depths. I loved the way Sally encourages preparation and honouring even before she shares any meditation ‘technique.’ Her constant focus on guiding the reader inside to meet themselves was revelatory for me and resulted in one of the most amazing dreams I have ever had. 

In the dream (which Sally explains can also be a form of meditation) I saw a girl enter a school gym and I looked over at this girl in admiration as she played table tennis. One of my present day spiritual teachers was stood next to me and I asked her who the girl was. I liked how vital she was,  I thought she was showing off a bit but I also immediately spotted her talent. Anyway my spiritual teacher answered me and said ‘Jo, it’s you, that girl is you at 15 years old.’ The girl then walked over to me and told me I looked familiar to her, so I said ‘Jo, It’s you, the only difference is I am 43 and you are 15.’ and then we both deeply and lovingly embraced each other. 

The feelings in the dream were of a profound home coming and a deep acceptance of myself …  and I credit that experience to not only the tuition that Sally shares in her book but also her transmissions and the transmissions of her Guru that are within its pages as well. 

It is man’s foremost duty to awaken the understanding of the inner self and to know his own real inner greatness. Once he knows his true worth, he can know the worth of others. – Swami Muktananda

Review: 'Awakening Shakti

I hadn’t even opened the pages of this book, it was simply on my night stand waiting to be read ahead of my interview with Sally. It had only been there a matter of days when I found myself thinking (lucidly in my sleep) of names like Vishnu, Shiva and Durga. At one point I sat bolt upright at 2am and said the name ‘Durga’ out loud.  

Earlier this year I spent 10 days in Bali where statues of the Hindu deities are worshiped everywhere and promised myself that on my return I would do more research into this spiritual tradition. I now understand that Sally’s book is the answer to that silent vow.

I’m taking my time with this book as Sally instructs but so far I love the ease of her explanations about such complicated stories (even humbly apologising in the foreword for any information she may have lost in translation) and I love how she is bringing the archetypal energies of these Goddesses to life, not only on the page but also inside of her readers! Her writing is contemporary and up to date but the sacredness of her subjects is never compromised.

The illustrations by Ekabhumi Charles Ellik are as beautiful and detailed as all of Sally’s descriptions of the Goddesses. 

One of the great gifts of being present to the space of consciousness as a motherly goddess is that you can bring her your pain and your pleasure and ask her to hold it.  – Sally Kempton

Buy 'Meditation for the Love of it'

Click image for more info

Buy 'Awakening Shakti'

Click image for more info

Related podcasts

If you enjoyed Sally’s podcast you may like to listen/listen again to Miranda’s podcast from Series 1. Miranda even mentions Sally at the end of our conversation.

'Sally Kempton is not only one of the best meditation teachers in the world; she is also one of us. She manages to fearlessly explore the outer reaches of the universe without ever losing the warm voice of your dear friend.'
Elizabeth Gilbert
Author of Eat, Pray, Love