A few years ago I heard a song called Good Life by Zhu and I couldn’t stop listening to the lyrics, over and over again. The lyrics hit me on the core level. I went down the rabbit hole to find the spoken word poet whose words they were.. And they were In-Q. I am BEYOND excited to have my favorite poet and someone who deeply inspires me In-Q on Highest Self Podcast. In this episode, we discuss spirituality, loss, wisdom and making your life your art. He also live performs 3 poems on this episode and I was straight up going to cry– this episode will FILL your heart with JOY and make you think about life in a deeper way.
Check out his new book Inquire Within, attend his workshops and connect with him @inqlife
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Episode 274: Making Your Life Art with In-Q
By Sahara Rose
Namaste. It’s Sahara Rose and welcome back to The Highest Self Podcast, a place where we discuss what makes You, Your Soul’s Highest Evolvement.
This month, for me, has been really tapping into my Self Love. In Rose Gold Goddesses, this month is all about Quan Yin. So, what does it mean to be compassionate to yourself? What would be the most compassionate choice at any given moment? and to really honor that.
So, it has been beautiful – I have had more time to paint; to reflect; to heal to work with incredible people, and it’s been just so amazing to really fill up my cup and to honor what it is that actually truly makes me happy; and to reframe everything in my life from this higher perspective.
And I think a lot of us, 2020 has been a year of massive up-levels already, and sometimes life can move really fast, and it’s important to look back and to reflect, and this Episode is one of those.
So, have you ever had your favorite singer perform your favorite song in front of you? Probably not, most people have not. But, I go to in this Episode.
So, In-Q is not a singer, he’s actually a poet, he’s a very world renowned poet; National Poetry Slam champion; multi-platinum song writer; named one of Oprah’s super soul 100 list of Most Influential Thought Leaders; has been featured on NBO’s Def Jam Poet.
And I had heard of him before but one day I was listening to this song by this producer called Zhu (I really like Zhu) I was listening to this song and it was called “Good Life” and something about the lyrics just moved me. The song would end and I would listen to it again, and again, and again – and you know those songs that you can’t get enough?! Every time I would listen to the lyrics of this song, I would find another layer to it, another meaning, another depth, and I needed to know who it was by – the name wasn’t listed on the song so I looked up the song credits, I found the voice’s name, I googled his name, tried to figure out who it was, and guess what – it was In-Q who I had already heard of, and in fact, knew my husband from before I actually knew my husband.
So, when his book, his new book, “Inquire Within” came out, I had to have him on the Podcast, and in this Episode he actually performs that very poem live in front of me, and I literally wanted to cry because I was so moved; because I had listened to it so many times, just walking down the street listening to it, and we kind of break it down. And the beautiful thing about this Episode is that poetry can have so many meanings, and your interpretation of something may be different than someone else’s, but it’s exactly what you need.
And I also liked In-Q’s perspective because it was very different than a lot of the people who I have had on this Podcast or in this kind of community.
I feel like there is a really big trend right now of the Law of Attraction, Abraham Hicks, Positivity Movement (which I love and I definitely I’m a part of that) but he offered this other perspective of sometimes it’s not positive and you don’t have to make it positive. You can find art in the pain and in the struggles of it,
And it was really beautiful, it’s just like Shadow Work at its core of you don’t need to find the thing that’s going to make you happy or choose the better thought – sometimes you just sink into the sadness and sink into the pain. And you fully sinking into it, is actually what you need to release it.
So all of his poems, he actually performs three live poems for us on this Episode that you’ll be able to hear. But all of his poems really have that substance, they’re based off of difficult moments of his life, but the fact that we’re all able to relate to it shows just how universal pain is and how we often try to deny it, deny it as a part of our experience, but in the denial of it, we’re not able to transmute it into love.
So this Episode is definitely that – talking about the things that are more difficult, more challenging, going into the shadows and finding art in it. And really showing that your whole life is your art, everything you do is your art. You get to have a normal experience and see it from that poetic lens, and that is really what makes magic on Earth.
So, I will play for you at the end of this Episode the song that I became obsessed with, that made me the die-hard In-Q fan that I am today (“Good Life” by Zhu). But this Episode, it’s a journey, it’s beautiful, it’s authentic, it’s rhythmic, and I know you’re going to love it.
So, without further ado, let’s welcome In-Q to The Highest Self Podcast.
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Welcome In-Q to The Highest Self Podcast, it’s so great to have you here.
Thank you very much, happy to be here.
So the first question I’s love to ask you is what makes you Your Highest Self?
I would say just trying to be present to who and where I am, and to live into that truth in every possible moment. And then to notice when I’m out of it and I’m kind of in my projection rather in reality. Because I think if you’re in your projection, it’s more difficult to operate from what’s actually happening, you’re operating from a story. So, noticing when I’m off and then trying to get centered and get aligned.
And I’m sure – you know, you’re a poet, which we’ll talk about – but also, you’re promoting a book; you’re doing all these things out in the world, but you and your soul are so creative.
How do you balance that being in society and then also coming back and having that space to just purely create for art?
Well, first of all, I’m not very good at self-promotion, it’s the least thing that I’ve ever been good at, or even interested in. I’m probably not good at it because I’m not interested in it. I’m one of these people that I need to be passionate about something to step into it fully.
So, that’s been an interesting transition process, but this isn’t really me promoting myself, it’s me promoting something I created, and so there’s a separation there. So it’s actually a joy to promote the book because I feel like I wanted to have a life of its own and to go wherever it needs to go. So that’s something actually I’m really excited about, for the first time, is promoting something, because I’ve never had a home for my art before.
In terms of separating the promotional aspect of it from the creation aspect of it, they are definitely compartmentalized on their own, like the stages of creating a book, as you know. You go through the creation stage, and then you go through the editing stage, and the packaging stage, and then you go through the marketing stage – which is really just a fancy way of saying ‘finding a way to get it out to the most possible people that you can.’ And if you believe in it, then that’s something that feels good rather than it feels like an obligation.
And then in terms of creating, I’m always just paying attention to the things that spark me, the things that move me, the things that inspire me, the things that annoy me. And then if I start a poem in a place that’s true and I give it time and space, the rest of the poem won’t most write itself.
So, it’s just paying attention, being aware and then creating the time and space to explore it.
And I think that’s smart, to compartmentalize things, because I think, sometimes, we try to juggle multiple tasks at the same time, we’re like “Oh, why aren’t I creating things” because you’re just in a different stage at your life now and to just be fully in that; not putting the pressure on yourself, like “Oh, I should still be making poems for the next book” This is what I’m doing now and if it comes along, it comes along, and that’s just a gift!
Yeah. Pressure actually stifles the creative process. Or I’ll speak for myself, pressure stifles my creative process because pressure leads to expectation, and expectation leads to me strategizing my inspiration, and that’s fucking boring, to strategize inspiration. You can’t try to contain inspiration, inspiration comes out of empty space. When there’s empty space, there’s inspiration, there’s infinite possibility.
I like to be surprised where the poems go or what the next thing I’m curious about is, and then follow that bread crumb trail, and then along with my audience, hopefully at the end of it be like “Wow! I didn’t expect that!” The poem has something it wants to say, so I feel like I’m a vehicle for it, but I’m also kind of the obstacle.
I love that! When I’m reading your poems too, sometimes I’m like “I know you’re talking about something else” so I almost want to skip to the end “What is he really talking about?” But it’s almost like that’s how we’re conditioned as humans “What is the result? Where is it guiding us to?” instead of going on that journey of not really knowing and seeing where it takes you, and that’s the complete surrender, and that’s what you have to be as a poet.
Well, art is ride. Life is a ride. And you can either hold on for dear life or you could throw your hands up. So when I’m experiencing art, I like to let go; and when I’m creating art, I like to let go.
Beautiful! So, there is this song I found on Spotify when I was listening to this artist called Zhu, and I was like “What! What are these words?” I kept listening to it, it became one of those songs that you listen to over, and over, and over again, and it’s done and you’re like “Okay, again!” it’s on loop. I would go on walks, I would keep listening to the lyrics of the song, I would keep finding more meaning in the lyrics, I would wonder, take one line and wonder and break it apart, and it got to a point like “Who’s voice is this?” So I started googling and Adam Schubert – so then I googled the name and then I realized it was you, and I was “What the fuck!”
I love the name Adam Schubert!
It’s like “Something that sounded kind of Jewish…”
Definitely, vaguely Jewish and Eastern European. You’re like “Where’s that dude from? Czechoslovakia, Germany? Who knows!”
Yeah, but holy crap! You guys, you have to listen to that song “Good Life” by Zhu because In-Q wrote the poem, the lyrics that are that song, and I think we could even spend the whole Podcast just breaking that poem, but before we talk about it, could you perform it for the audience?
Yeah, sure. I get DM’s all the time. He plays it at festivals so my voice is just booming out for 20,000 people and nobody knows it’s me. It’s kind of cool actually, it has an anonymous, mysterious factor – mystery makes history!
Life is all about you, and not at all about you.
Now that’s two opposing thoughts, and yet both of them are true.
How can we experience everything we choose to do?
While observing the experience we’re having from a higher view.
See, it’s the question, not the answer that’s the higher view
Otherwise you couldn’t differentiate between the two,
Awareness, but of who?
I am the journey that I’m getting to,
Gratitude is my destination,
My destiny is perfectly aligned with this location.
I am the man, so my rhymes are like road signs,
I have everything I want because my imagination’s mine,
But mine is not enough for me because I’m not my mind,
I could see it all, and never get to see, I’m truly blind,
I could be it all, but all identity is intertwined.
The Moon is only bright because it reflects the Sun’s shine.
And I’m not entirely convinced I even write these lines
Because my DNA is coded by divine design.
But if I manifest abundance while humanity is dying,
I am equally responsible for all that I’m denying.
See, you can tell the truth and still be lying.
I did it for years,
My perception was a fun-house mirror,
And my projection was exaggerated on reality,
Till my reflection back was nothing more than technicality.
So who am I if I’m not who I am?
What if I didn’t have my name, or my age or my friends?
If I didn’t do my poetry, who would I be then?
The things that I’ve become are not the things that I truly am.
And everything I think I own, owns me in the end.
Existence doesn’t owe me anything, quite the opposite,
Existence will exist long after I am missed,
So the art is more important than the artist is.
It’s not a human race, it’s just the human race,
There’s nothing left to chase,
We do not run this place.
But both medicine and poison are acquired tastes,
So I started taking selfies of somebody else’s face.
Oh my God! Ahhh! You know when you hear your favorite artist perform in fucking front of you, it’s so cool. I’m just so overwhelmed with emotions! Oh my Goddess, I just want to know, where were you when that poem came through?
Well, can I ask you something first?
What connects to you about the poem, and what does it make you think about specifically, or feel?
So, one line I kept repeating and I kept thinking about was “The Moon is only bright because it reflects the Sun’s shine” and I wanted to ask you what were you thinking when you wrote that because I came up with a million interpretations in my mind, and for some reason, to me, what that meant was revealing your shadows. The Moon is your shadow side, and it’s only a reflection of your sunshine, so that side can’t be there without your bright side, and they kind of need each other.
See, that’s beautiful – then that’s exactly what I meant. No, I actually meant something completely different but that’s the whole point of what art is. It’s not really about the artist, it’s like you say in the poem “The art is more important than the artist is” because the person that hears it, their interpretation is what they need to explore in their life. That’s why I also don’t control, or even attempt to control, because control is an illusion, but how my audience experiences my work, I want them to experience it however they experience it. But it was actually a very simple concept to me, that line was about you look up at the night sky and you think “Wow, the Moon is so bright!” But the Moon isn’t the source of light, it’s the reflection of the light from the Sun, and how everything is interconnected, and we don’t tend to realize that on a moment to moment basis. And that’s one of the reasons that we kind of feel so isolated in our own experience, but everything is connected, the things that we see and the things that we don’t see.
That is so beautiful and so true. A piece or art, a painting, anything, has so many interpretations and so many meanings, and what’s amazing is words. We think of words as – you say a word, it’s direct, it has a meaning, but it’s actually this open invitation of whatever you’re working through, you will find and pick through that.
It’s also completely imaginary by the way. All words, they have so much meaning of course, to our lives, the things we say to ourselves and the things we say to other people, and I absolutely love words, I’ve been in love with them since I was a kid, and the way that they can sound, and the way that you can put them in different orders and make different meaning – how one thing means one thing to someone, and to someone else it means a completely different thing (in terms of even that one word) – what it invokes or evokes. But it’s all fucking imaginary. Literally, these are all just symbols that we’ve all agreed upon, we learned when we were a kid – sometime I just trip out when I’m just talking to people and I’m like “How the fuck do I understand what they’re saying right now?”
Yeah, I get that too. Just these sounds that we’ve attached meaning to.
Yeah, and you and I are communicating…
Through making weird sounds.
Exactly! And if you didn’t know the language…
And certain sounds are negative, and certain ones are positive. Even swearing, the word ‘fuck’ I find it empowering, I like when people swear, but other people, it’s like it hurts them. And that’s just the conditioning around the vowels, the word ‘fuck’ creates such an emotion, but ‘fudge’ doesn’t.
Well, ‘fudge’ creates a different emotion. People hear ‘fudge’ and they’re like “Mmm.” It’s pretty funny.
People around here ‘fuck’ they might feel “Mmm” too.
Well played! For me, for example, I cuss all the time, and I cuss on stage and I cuss off stage. Some people only cuss off stage and some people cuss only on stage, but I do both. For me it’s all about, I think it’s like a great equalizer many times because it drops people down. And when I’m on stage and I say it, it either makes someone uncomfortable or it makes them comfortable, both are actually ways to make people lean in or lean back, and either one is fine when it comes to art.
So, I want to go into this poem a little bit more. So, “I started selfies of someone else’s face” – I take that you are a non-dualist from this poem, it’s just a lot about how our identities don’t exist and how all identities entwined – I’d love to know a little bit more of what your spiritual interpretation is and how that reflects in your poetry.
Well, I don’t know if the audience can hear the sirens in the background, if they can hear sirens in the background (which we’re hearing) – you know, everything is happening simultaneously. We’re sitting here, we’re having a lovely conversation, there’s a gorgeous view, and yet, everything that’s possible to happen in the human experience is happening in this moment – someone’s getting murdered, someone’s making love, someone’s child is being born – there are infinite possibilities and they’re all playing out in this one moment.
So, this moment is true to me because of where I am and what my experience is, but I try not to forget that there are many other realities happening at the same time. The end of the poem where it talks about taking selfies of someone else’s face – I was inspired by The Humans of New York Instagram, because I like that idea of using a platform to explore other people’s stories and then to mirror back the human condition, that the circumstances might be different, but the experiences are always all the same – how we cope with it, what we go through, our emotional landscape, what we want in life. And so, I think it had a lot to do with that, not just thinking that if I created the perfect life that I wanted to live and I lived in full abundance, but just ignored what was going on with the people around me, in either my immediate circle; my community; or humanity at large, that something would be missing and you have to straddle both worlds.
So, that’s another part of your poem “If I am manifesting abundance while other people are suffering” or however you worded it, “I’m equally responsible for that” – How do you deal with that? because I think that that thought feels so overwhelming for people that they can’t fully feel happy where they are because they’re thinking of other people who are not there. And in some ways that’s not really serving us too.
How do you deal with you, living this beautiful blessed life when so many other people don’t have that?
Yeah, it’s definitely a conundrum, and it’s something that I still struggle with. That line isn’t about an answer, it’s about the awareness of the question that never gets answered. But you can decide to do small things or big things, to be aware of that and then to actually take action. And I don’t think because something is overwhelming that means we shouldn’t look at it, I don’t chose to live that way. So it’s something I’m still, of course, working on; something still, of course, I’m aware of; not only in the subjects that I choose to explore in my work, but in what I do in everyday life.
Yeah, I think it’s interesting because we have a lot of these Law of Attraction teachers who are like “Just think positive thoughts and if you only think positive thoughts, positive things will happen to you” and then this other responsibility of the war; the suffering; the patriarchy; and all of these things, and it almost sometimes feels like for people, that they have to choose like “Do I choose living in this bubble and ignoring the pain and the suffering or do I try to help it and potentially suffer myself?”
Yeah, first of all, I don’t even agree that you should only think positive. I think that’s just bullshit, to be quite honest, because I think that if you are only thinking positive, you’re actually denying a part of your truth and suppressing it. Walking around, only being positive, when you actually feel negative, is denying a part of your human experience. So, I don’t tend to subscribe to that philosophy. What I think is that you have to feel through every human emotion that you have, but you also have to choose not to operate from a victim mentality – no matter what you’ve gone through, even if it’s impossible to make sense out of it, ultimately you have to make a choice of are you going to be a victim to this or are you going to find a way to be empowered through what you’ve gone through; and to ultimately alchemize those emotions.
So, I don’t think that it’s about only looking at the things that are positive around you, I think it’s about accepting and acknowledging all of it, but then feeling through it, and then using that energy to create something else – and that’s where you find the transformation, and that’s where you find the Alchemy.
In terms of living in those two realms at the same time, yeah, it’s very, very difficult, but that’s what it means to be human. And even if you look at these two realms in the spiritual world and physical world – we’re definitely in a physical reality right now. Everything around us has its own space in this room – we both have our identities; we want things for ourselves; we want to create; we have accomplishments, goals that we’re setting; we want to live in abundance; and all of these things are true, and we deserve that. We deserve to follow our Purpose; follow our passion; discover; explore; be alive to the fullest in every possible way, and that’s amazing. But then, the other truth is that, mostly this is empty space, really, we’re all literally just vibrating energy when you really get in on it, or you pull out on it (I’m saying in the Universe and in ourselves). So in that way, it’s like our frequency and how we’re vibrating changes what we’re attracted to and what we’re attracting – I think that’s a reality as well.
And so, then you have the spiritual world, and that’s all of that, and how do you keep both of those thoughts in your head at the same time as you’re navigating life? I think that that’s something that we’re all trying to do (or at least I’m trying to do) and I know that you’re trying to do the same thing in your way. So in that spiritual reality, we’re all one, but in the physical reality there is a lot of crazy shit going on in the world. And if we just focus on the things that make us happy and we don’t look at institutionalized Racism and Populism, and the crazy things that are happening in politics right now, the gun laws, there’s a lot of things going on in the world that really do need to be changed. The fact that climate change is the biggest existential crisis to humanity that’s out there and the President didn’t even mention it at the State of the Union the other day – I just want to make sure that I’m just trying to have both of those things in mind.
And I think what you’re doing is, you’re tackling it in a high vibrational way; you’re alchemizing it into art. I think a lot of people hear about all the negativity happening – I know, I was a hard-core Activist when I was younger, but I was so angry about it, and I was just like almost fueling to the fire. And I’m not able to create a high vibrational world when I’m just fighting against the fight. And I think that’s where a lot of people get stuck, but then it’s that guilt of “Well, if I’m not fighting, and they’re fighting towards negativity, then I’m giving it and it’s my fault” so it’s like this really hard dance to be a Spiritual Activist because one is so ethereal and one is so damn physical.
I don’t mind the anger, I think anger is amazing, I just don’t like destruction. I think there’s a difference – you can use anger to build something up, or you can use anger to destroy, and that’s a personal choice, everybodyhas to define that on their own.
Yeah, that’s a good perspective too – of letting yourself be angry; letting yourself be sad.
It’s necessary, you have to allow it to move through you, otherwise it gets trapped inside and you take it out on somebody else in traffic, or it becomes a disease or something like that. You have to move through – my mom has to put her dog down today. I was speaking to her earlier and she’s sobbing, and I’m going to go see her after this. I would never tell my mom “You have to just be positive” she has to go through the grieving stages; she has to allow those emotions to move through her. That’s one specific example, but I think …
And a lot of us don’t know how to hold space for that, we’re like “Oh, you’ll get another dog!” We can’t sit in that sadness and that anger so we try to just get out of it because we feel like if we sit into it for too long, we’re going to stay in there.
Right! And I think that’s what unconditional love is, it’s being with other people in their suffering and not trying to change it or them, just accepting them for where they’re at and holding space, as you said.
Yeah. So, you yourself, in your childhood, wrote a poem about this (which is at the beginning of your book) that put some anger and internal suffering when it came to not knowing your father.
Can you share that poem with us?
Yeah, sure. This particular piece is called “Father Time”
I’m staring at the number, wondering if I should call,
I can hear the tick-tock from the clock on the wall as it meshes with the thump-thump beat of my heart
Sometimes getting something started is the hardest part.
I didn’t need my dad until I was fifteen,
I’d seen his photograph, but his image was sickening,
A coward with a dick, but no balls to back it up.
See, when he left me as a kid, I had cause for acting up.
The funny thing about hate is the person you hate doesn’t feel that hate,
You feel that hate, but wait,
The weight can be too much for a person to take, and personally I was hurt, so I just locked it away.
I was angry all the time, and I didn’t know why,
I couldn’t handle my own rage, so I would hide it inside, pretending everything was fine,
It became a daily past time.
Time passed and I started to believe in my own lies.
I took it out on my mom because she raised me alone,
The rage that I couldn’t own had left me totally numb,
It was like landmines in my mind, that I didn’t understand,
So when the boy inside cried, the young man outside yelled.
I think I learned about my masculinity from TV,
The people weren’t real, so I knew they couldn’t leave me.
I would sit there for hours, right in front of the tube,
The images that I saw were my depiction of truth; it was manhood in a box, and I bought into it.
The censorship of anything inside of me Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.that’s sensitive,
The sentence is a lifetime of tears, suppressed in a stone-face and overblown ego,
They’ve distracted through a paper-chase.
Back when I was nine,
I imagined in my mind, that my father was a spy working for the FBI,
And that’s why I couldn’t stop by to write a drop of line,
He was off saving our lives from the bad guys,
But that was just a lie that I used to get by,
So that you wouldn’t see the tears welling up in my eyes,
When you’re rejected by the person that you’re created by,
You secretly feel like you don’t have a right to your life.
I thought that if I confronted him then it would make it all right,
But since I couldn’t forgive him, it just recycled my spite.
I remember meeting him for the first time,
Every time a person passed by I would ask “Mom, is that him?” I look a little like him, right?
“No!” “Oh! Well, what about that guy?”
And that’s what it was like to meet the man that gave me my life.
To shake his hand and look into his eyes,
We talked until he apologized,
Then said our goodbyes,
I walked away on my own and I began to cry.
Now, for years after that, I acted like it was all resolved,
I told him what I thought, so I figured problem solved,
But it just re-evolved.
My insecurities were eating at my mental health,
I took it out on the world because I hated myself.
That’s when I finally decided, I needed some help.
I opened up, I started writing and sharing about my past,
I got honest with myself and I started chipping at my mask,
I looked into the mirror and confronted what I saw,
Accepting the reflection by embracing every flaw,
Then directing the connection into breaking down the walls,
By reflecting the perfection of the God inside us all.
I stopped focusing on everything that I had been hateful for,
And started focusing on everything I could be grateful for.
And personally, there is a lot I can be thankful for,
If pain is dragging you down, just cut the ankle cord,
That’s when the weight lifted and I really stared living,
That’s when my hate shifted and I really started giving,
That’s when my fate twisted, it was like an ego exorcism.
Your mind state can be the most powerful of prisons.
My father never played catch with me or gave advice,
But if nothing else, that man gave me my life,
And that’s enough for me, if that is all he could ever give,
Because I’m appreciative of every day I get to live.
And even though I don’t need my dad to validate me,
I thought that I should write this poem to thank him for creating me,
Because every moment that we are alive is like a gift.
And if that’s not enough to forgive,
Then what is?
I’m starting at the number, wondering if I should call,
I can hear the tick-tock from the clock on the wall as it meshes with the thump-thump beat of my heart
Sometimes getting something started is the hardest part.
I picked the phone up, the dial-tone begins to sing,
I punch his number into it and it begins to ring, ring, ring.
“Hello, Mike. Hey man, it’s Adam. Your son.”
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Wow! Part of me is “What happened next? Did he pick up?” But, maybe you don’t tell that story.
I think this brings up at lot for people with any type of parent issue, which is every single person, because everyone has something. I think a lot of us, we, feel so guilty about being angry to our parents because of this “Well, they gave me in life!” And I see often, in myself, and in others of like “Well, I can’t go into what they did wrong because they were doing the best that they could.”
How did you balance that, having this gratitude for “He gave you life” and just being fucking angry that he wasn’t there for you?
Well, I don’t think that I was able to get to the gratitude without going through the anger first. And I think once I was able to release my anger and fully acknowledge it, and realize that since I hadn’t alchemized it; since I was still, I guess, victimizing myself and I hadn’t fully transformed it into finding a way to be empowered and grateful for it, it was seeping out into other areas of my life. So once I realized that I had to go digging, and once I was able to really pull out that anger, and totally, fully acknowledge it, accept it, and ultimately integrate it – because the integration has to happen, almost, I don’t even know, before the release, maybe it just is instead of the release. Because the integration means that it becomes a part of you and you own it.
If I think about what happened with my dad, it’s just one of the experiences that I went through in my life that were more difficult, but it was a corner stone for who I am. I don’t think that I would be the person that I am, in fact, I know that I wouldn’t be the writer that I am. I think growing up with just me and my mom (my mom’s a school teacher, grew up in Santa Monica) not having my dad around made me very observant to myself; what I was supposed to be like. It kind of made me externalize my masculinity “What is a man supposed to be like?” And then it made me analyze my environment a lot more, and those were the very tools that I use as a poet; those are the stories that I put into this book.
So, it’s not only “Who would I be without this?” It’s finding a way to be grateful, genuinely grateful for every single thing that I’ve experienced in my life because it’s made me who I am and it’s made me where I am. And I love being here with you right now, in this moment, it feels really good and everything led me here.
And perhaps your soul chose to have had that situation because it allowed you to, like you said, think about masculinity externally. But think about all areas of identity, externally, and that’s really what you do, that’s your Dharma to look at these things that we all are living in, from this outside perspective, and that takes a level of neutrality and separation. Even just the fact that you’re thinking about “What are words? They are really just sounds” is this investigator mind. And maybe you wondering “Well, what is man like; what is a father like; what does a normal family look like?”
Was your schooling and preparation to even think this way?
Yeah, absolutely, I couldn’t have said it better.
It’s amazing how I truly think our souls set us up for those experiences we need for our highest evolvement.
What about you? When you say that, do you have something that you’re specifically thinking about for your own life?
For myself? Oh one hundred percent. I had my family really not believe in me, so, telling me that I was going to fail, that I’m a loser and they want nothing to do with me because I was taking this alternative path. So it took me, essentially, letting go of that child need of approval and that gold stamp of “Okay, you can go on” and giving that to myself, and being like “Even if I am disowned by my family; even if I have no relationship with them, I would still rather choose that, and know what I potentially could become, than lock myself and never really, truly be able to love them either because I haven’t been able to explore my truth.”
Right! You would be playing small in order to be loved by them.
Which means that even if you’re being loved by them, they’re not really loving you, so who are they loving? The parts that they want to see – that’s not really love. Loving is actually loving the parts that are harder to accept in a moment, but still saying “I fully accept the things that are hard to accept; even if I don’t agree with them; even if I don’t understand them – and that’s because I love you.”
And I think a lot of us are not – we don’t have that courage to go through that because it’s so hard to let go of what you were brought up to become, then that’s when the guilt stuff comes up of “Well, they’ve sacrificed so much for me, they did so much for me.”
Did you ever have any resentment or people telling you that becoming a professional poet, you weren’t going to make it; or putting their own fears into your mind?
First of all, what the fuck is a professional poet? If I say that at a party, people look at me like I just said I’m a race car driver. But I just wanted to say one more thing on off of what we were saying before that, which is – you have to be willing not to be liked in order to be loved. So, it’s just something to keep in mind and keep in heart.
Yeah, I had a very bizarre road to even creating this book. The book is called “Inquire Within” and I’ve been running around the country and the world performing these poems for years and years and years, and they’ve always been these kind of living, breathing documents that would change as I would change. And as I would evolve, I would kind of edit them in real time and say “I don’t believe that anymore” or “I’m going to change this word.” So this is the first time that I’ve brought it all into one space, and it’s been the most gratifying creative process of my life.
I originally started out rapping. When I was a kid, I would say free-styling was kind of my first form of meditation, because when you’re free-styling you can’t think about anything else but the next word and the next rhyme. So it puts you in the moment like nothing else can. And I absolutely fell in love with the freedom, the concepts, the expression. And then when I was nineteen, I ended up in an open mic for poets called The Poetry Lounge in Los Angeles, and I started doing my rapping acapella, and I just loved the community – it was like a church without religion. It was the first time I ever saw people being celebrated for vulnerability. The same way, in a battle rap, you do a punch line, and somebody’s like “Oh!” If you got up and you said something true in that environment, everybody would snap; they would cheer, and I was like “Wow! This is fucking amazing to be celebrated for saying something that’s real, for the things that you’re thinking; the things that you’re feeling.” I just thought it was amazing, so I just went back every single week and then one day I woke up and I realized I was more of a poet than I was a rapper. Years went by, we won the National Poetry Slam championships; I was on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam; and then I had to figure out how I was going to make a living with this. So eventually I ended up getting a publishing deal to write songs at a place called Rock Mafia, it’s an incredible record company, publishing house. There are two artists Tim James and Anthony Armato, they run it, and I ended up writing songs for all sorts of people, from Selena Gomez, and Miley Cyrus, to Foster the People, Alo Black.
So, I very, very consciously took the success I had in song writing, which gave me a financial foundation, and I used that to get back into my poetry, and that’s when we started to build the business around what I was doing. And still, I had absolutely no interest in writing a book. And then only last year, did something shift, and I was like “I actually want to bring all of my stuff into one place” and so, we created my first product. And I don’t even say product as in like the branding sense, it’s just, as I said, a home for my art, it’s something that people can hold in their hands and experience. And so, that’s incredibly exciting for me to finally give it away to the world. And you know, we did an audio book around it which is so amazing.
I want to know a little bit more – how do you perform it so well? Did that naturally come through? Did you have to do speaking coaching or a mix of both?
What do you mean? Did I get other people to…
Yeah, to help you to perform and narrate these poems so well?
No, no. I think it’s like anything else.
You know, someone can teach you, definitely, art. But they’re never going to be able to teach you your voice, that’s impossible. You find your voice by using your voice, and that’s what people are afraid of often, they’re afraid that if they use their voice, it won’t sound right. And the only way to know your voice is to use your voice. And so, that’s what I did, just over and over and over again. Miles Davies has that quote “I took me a really, really long time to be able to play like myself” something like that. So I can certainly relate to that, and I know many other people can as well. And I put in so many hours, and I did it because I was in love; I did it because I was obsessed; I did it because I had that sense of wanting validation, which was an unsustainable fuel source, but worked for a while, and then I kind of transitioned into something else.
Yeah, the same for me. I’ve never taken speaking classes and some of my friends were like “Well, now you’re doing so much speaking, you should sign up for these courses” and I was like “You know what, I genuinely think it would disserve me because it would be teaching me how to speak in that way, which everyone is being trained in, and it would kind of take me away from my flow and my voice. And I think it’s just your quirks – like for you, you’re like an actor too. You guys can’t see him right now but you can feel every word, and that’s something that no one can train you to do.
Right, yeah. Thank you! I think a performance is a part of it, but even the performance can get in the way of communicating what it is that the true message is or what the poem wants to say. So that’s why I was saying earlier I’m the vehicle for it, but I’m also the obstacle for it. And that’s in the creation, and it’s also in the sharing. You know, in the creation, as I’m writing – sometimes I’ll write something that’s really, really great, but it’s not right, and then I’ll have to say “Oh this great thing that I wrote is really about my ego but it’s not really right for the poem.” And so, I’m the vehicle and the obstacle to move it out of the way so I can get back on the poems.
That happened, like “I need to make this line work somehow because I’m attached to it, but it’s like “No, it’s just not the flow.”
Exactly! So it’s paying attention to that! And then in the performance of it, it’s using those tools to connect with people (which can be taught by the way), but there’s a difference between using the tools and having your tools use you. So, if they’re getting in the way of the actual communication, as you said, it’s kind of a disservice.
So, I went to your poetry workshop, which was phenomenal, I highly recommend it. If you see on his website, go to them! And it was amazing because you didn’t really tell us “Okay, here’s how to write a poem, and here’s how you perform it” you just gave us the space, and just giving us the space was enough for us to come up with them ourselves. I went with one of my best friends, and I learned about a piece of her that I would have never known had we not gone to that workshop, because I don’t remember what was the prompt – can you explain to us a little bit how your workshops work?
Yeah, I don’t remember the prompts of the particular one that you came to.
It was like a hard moment in your life, something like that.
Okay, got it. So that prompt was ‘a moment that changed who you are’, and kind of exploring that through a poem, and sharing it with either someone right around you, or getting up and getting a chance to be vulnerable from a place of strength in front of the whole entire group.
As we’ve already been talking about, when I take a teacher position and I’m facilitating, I don’t try to tell people what their voice is. I don’t even give any constructive feedback, really. One thing that I will try to do is, after I do a few poems to warm everybody up, I’ll make sure that whatever I’m asking of them, I do first, because if I’m asking other people to be vulnerable and to trust me, I have to lead by example, otherwise it’s actually irresponsible. It’s kind of irresponsible to ask other people to do something that you’re not willing to do first. So I make sure that I’m doing that first, and if I fully step into that and I create a safe space for other people, then they are usually willing to follow. And if they explore something that’s moving and meaningful to them, then when we get to the portion where they’re just writing from the prompt, it usually comes really easily.
And then, to your point, when people get up and share, the only thing really I will do is I’ll push them a little beyond their comfort zone. So if they are really quiet, I’ll make them yell the poem. If the poem has anger but they’re not showing anger, I’ll make them bring up the anger. If they’re not in their bodies, I’m make them move around a bunch because then, just having that experience, expands your system. You’ve had a new experience of yourself and you’ve realized “Wow, I didn’t die, I’m still here” so then when you come back, you have a new normal. And then sharing it, obviously with the people in the group (one-on-one) is an interesting experience because whether they’re a stranger or you’ve known them your entire life, people don’t really often talk to each other about – it’s so easy to not go into what’s actually going on. Even if you’re really close to someone, even when you’re deep…
Because we don’t want to be a buzz-kill! So a casual conversation, not “So, tell me about the hardest thing that ever happened to you in your life” but those are the things that you get to know someone from.
Well, you probably felt a lot closer to her.
A hundred percent!
I do it for companies and corporations all the time – that’s an interesting thing too because, literally, they have no context for who they’re working with, absolutely no context. And they actually have issues communicating with people because they have no context and they’re misinterpreting the person’s behavior. And if just then get to know somebody, the context leads to the communication, and the communication leads to better collaboration, and then ultimately it leads to better creation. So, it can be as simple as friendship or it can be as complicated as what I just said.
Do you have any good prompts that people can use if they want to write a poem themselves?
‘Choosing a moment that changed who you are in your life’ is a very, very deep prompt because it allows them to go into their history. And there’s fifty moments, you could always go back to that – and as long as you’re exploring it through a poem and intending for it to be a poem, and choosing something that is charged, that you wouldn’t normally discuss to someone after fifteen minutes at a dinner party – it will start to flow, it just will – that’s a good one. Looking at what your biggest fear is in your life right now and exploring where it came from; and exploring who you would have to be to overcome it; what your life would look like if you lived it to your fullest potential; how would you impact yourself, the people immediately around you and your larger community and the world; and making sure that’s a full circle prompt, so that you’re ending on that empowerment – that’s a great prompt. There’s many but really, it has much more to do with choosing something that is moving and meaningful and charged. Because the prompts don’t matter, they’re just road maps for someone to get to something that’s emotional for them, and then using this particular outlet of poetry, this particular genre, that they would almost never express themselves in, and using that to explore it, and then sharing it with someone – because the end is just being witnessed.
A hundred percent! So, I’m sure people are wondering “Well, does it have to rhyme to be a poem?” What makes a poem, a poem?
Look, you could talk to many poets or many teachers who would have a different definition than me. I just think that “What the fuck is art anyway?” Our lives are our greatest art!
So, I think if you intend something to be something, that’s what it is. So if you sit down and say “I’m going to write a poem” it can rhyme, it cannot rhyme, it can be long, it can be short, but it has to be meaningful.
Are there any final poems that you’re feeling called to share with our audience?
Sure, I could share another poem.
There is nothing in life that you cannot breathe through except death,
And since we’re all alive it means that there’s one breath left,
So pull it deep into your chest, into your bones, into your breast, into your blood, into your necks, into the mind, into the depth,
Until it hugs your souls and suffocates the space that you have left,
Until it tugs your heart’s string and leaves your molecules caressed,
Just a few precious seconds right before eternal rest,
Will you fight for your survival from this uninvited guest?
Will you rolodex your history to glamorize regrets?
Or set sights on new arrival and go sprinting up the steps?
Me, I’ll revel in the wonder of the colors and the shapes.
The way the light resembles floating diamonds dancing on the lake,
I’m nobody’s mistake.
But my existence wasn’t planned,
I had to sneak into the party, they were out of wrist bands,
Now I’m sinking towards the exist like it’s made of quicksand,
See, I got used to spinning my wheels, but hit the kickstand,
I want to truly view the world around me while I still can,
I want to worship every flower,
Giving prayers over the land,
I want to open up my eyes so wide that what I see expands,
And the beauty beams so bright,
It overwhelms woman and man,
Fuck a portal to the light,
I want to scream, I want to fight, I want to eat and fuck and drink,
I want to touch, I want to think, and feel, and taste and see,
I want to live, I want to be and I’d give anything but life
Because I’m dying to be me.
I spent half my life trying to be anything but me,
Now, my afterlife is spying on my new reality,
And I’m vying for another breath before he sets me free,
I’m defying death with everything,
Because death’s defying me.
I will rant, I will rave, I will spit, I will rage,
I’ll go barefoot on the Sun or swim a sea of razor blades,
I will grow, I will age, I will slow, I will fade,
I will sleep on hot coals,
Or juggle chainsaws and live grenades,
And though I know I’d never give up,
In the end, I’ll give way.
Hey! I’m sure there’s someone else with something more important to say,
But instill then, I’m living each and every fucking day,
So when I take a breath I do it like I swear I’m here to stay.
Learned fear can be overcome when you realize the voice inside your head is not yours,
It’s an imitation of the voices from before,
Repeating on a loop inside your quiet core,
Receiving since your youth,
When your choices weren’t even yours,
Perceiving was the proof, but reality has many doors,
So, why are we still fighting other people’s wars?
Learned fear can be overcome when you realize the voice inside your head is not yours,
It’s an imitation of the voices from before,
Repeating, repeating, repeating on a loop inside your quiet core,
And you can’t tell the difference because it sounds the same,
But trust me when I tell you most of what you think is from somebody else’s brain,
They have us trained,
Shackled by imaginary chains,
Imaginary rules for imaginary games,
But they don’t know the reasons either,
So where shall we place the blame?
And who is ‘they’ anyway when we’re all the same?
Our parents had parents,
And their parents had parents,
Apparently it hurts to see, so I’ll be transparent.
The world is so much bigger than your insecurities,
And they don’t speak on your behalf without your soul’s authority.
The world is so much bigger than your culture or community,
And they don’t speak on your behalf without your soul’s authority
Because if it’s all a story, then nobody else can it for me.
Since I’m always transforming, I defy a category,
When you do the same thing, the same way, it’s a habit forming,
But nothing in this land of woman and man is mandatory,
It’s all just transitory,
Our world’s a laboratory,
Experimenting on today can change tomorrow morning.
And since matter is mostly empty space,
Where in a sea of consciousness, where the boundaries are erased,
So i stared at my reflection until I couldn’t see my face,
Then I picked myself and put the flowers in an empty vase,
If you came for validation then you’re in the wrong place,
The only certain satisfaction is becoming what you’ve chased,
And there’s no running from the inner voice,
So it’s important that you choose,
But it’s more important that you know you have a choice,
You have a choice!
Are you living someone else’s life?
You have a voice!
Does it haunt you in the dead of night?
Would you fly if you weren’t convinced to be afraid of heights, and who convinced you anyway? They had no fucking right!
No one can dim your life!
You shine within so bright
That you could blind the Sun from sight
And scare him back into the night.
No one can dim your light!
I said it twice
Because you’re bigger than the circumstances that surround your perfect life.
You’re not your nature or your nurture,
You’re a prototype.
And if you home it right, eventually you’ll hack your satellite.
A little to the left, a little to the right.
At first it’s nothing, and nothing turns into a whisper,
Turn the dial until it gets crisper on your transistor,
Wait a while and the whisper turns into a scream,
It overwhelms your system and you don’t know what it means,
But pump the volume up and it can tell you all your dreams,
Till pretty soon it’s the only voice you’ll ever need,
Now all you have to do is listen when you want to lead,
Your fear disintegrates when you decide to stop and breathe.
It’s your authentic voice,
No matter where you go, it never leaves.
And that’s God, no matter what religion you believe.
I’m starting my own religion,
And everyone is welcome,
But nobody can join,
If you did, you missed the point.
Keep loving through your sadness,
Keep loving through your fears,
Keep loving through your anger,
Keep loving through your tears,
Keep loving through your failure,
Keep loving through success,
Keep loving through anxiety,
Keep loving through distress,
Keep loving through rejection,
Keep loving through mistrust,
Keep loving though your jealousy,
Keep loving through your lust,
Keep loving though your movement,
Keep loving through your breath,
Keep loving until loving is the only thing that’s left.
Wow! Thank you for that beautiful blessing, that journey! So much there, so much beauty! Thank you for putting your thoughts, all of our thoughts, and letting us hear them back. I think that that’s what really art and poetry is – is you put my thoughts into words. So for that, we are all so grateful!
Where can listeners connect with you, get your book, your audio book, learn from you, and just engage with you further?
Thank you for saying that! I appreciate you listening and I appreciate you sharing me with your audience.
You can buy the book, we’ve partnered up with Harper Collins, Harper One specifically. It’s called “Inquire Within”, it’s out now, March 31st. So when you’re hearing this, it’s going to be out. You can feel free to get it on my website; you can get it on Amazon; you can get it in bookstores. But if you do, definitely let me know, tag me! My website is in-q.com and anything on social media is @inqlife.
And I just want to spread the word as much as possible.
And the idea of “Inquire Within” – on the cover it has the tree and the roots, and they mirror. And if you turn it to the side, it looks like lungs, and the two parts are the inhale and exhale. And the inhale is like the personal poems, it’s kind of like the poetic journey, and then, exhale is the social and political stuff.
And for me, having all of the poems in one place, I finally got a chance to see what I’ve been trying to say all of these years. And it really has to do with the fact that culture and society, consumerism, is constantly trying to take from us. It’s trying to take our attention, and our money, and our likes, and our information, and our love. And if I don’t know something, what do I do? I look outside of myself, I look on Google or read a book or listen to a Podcast. These are incredible things; technology is connecting the entire world and it’s wonderful. But people are also feeling pretty isolated, and so, I would encourage anybody listening (and this is something that I learned from reading my own book). But if you have something going on right now, just take some time and be with yourself, and create that space inside of yourself because eventually your one true voice will rise, and that’s going to be your true North; that’s your compass for finding your passion and purpose in life, and only you will know.
So, hopefully this Podcast and this book is a window to help people look within themselves to find the answers.
Well thank you again so much for sharing.
[1:08:54] End of Interview:
Such a good Episode!
It’s so magical how we all this ability to turn ordinary, or even painful, moments and turn it into art. It’s really a beautiful invitation for us to find deeper meaning, deeper resonance, to not just go to “What’s the next thing I need to do? What’s the next goal? What’s the next accomplishment? Keep it moving!” and look at everything around you look at your childhood; look at your dark spots; look under the rug, and see “How can I alchemize it? How can I turn it into beauty? How can I turn it into art?”
And this is available for all of us, you don’t have to be a poet, everyone already is a poet.
So, so great to have In-Q! Be share to check out his new book “Inquire Within” – if you head over to his website in-q.com you can find some of his live performances that he’s doing all around the world. I highly recommend seeing him live, he’s an incredible speaker and someone who really inspires me to be my poetic self.
If you loved this Episode, I would love to send you a free gift which is the first half of my unreleased book “Eat Right for Your Mind Body Type“. This is a different book than “Eat Feel Fresh“. My first book ever which is not released anywhere, and I am gifting it exclusively to those who leave a review of my Podcast in the iTunes store. So all you’ve got to do is head over to iTunes where you’re maybe listening to this Podcast and leave a review, take a screenshot that you’ve left it and email it over to me at [email protected] and I will send you back the first half of my unreleased book “Eat Right for Your Mind Body Type“, which goes all into Ayurveda, Doshas, Plant-Based Nutrition, Body Types – all of the things in a really fun and engaging way. So this is my gift to you for free for supporting the Podcast. Every single review I personally read. It really helps the Podcast be listened to by more people so we can raise the vibration of the planet together, and I am soul grateful to have you on this journey.
Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you on the next Episode. Namaste.
Episode 274: Making Your Life Art with In-Q
By Sahara Rose