Doctor John Douillard is one of the world’s foremost natural health experts and a leading voice in the fields of Ayurveda and sports medicine. As a certified ayurvedic practitioner, John draws from ancient Indian medical knowledge and cutting edge medical research to treat the ailments of the modern world. A prolific author, podcaster and YouTube presence, millions of viewers have watched John’s videos about topics like sleep improvement, brain detoxing, healthy aging, and longevity. On Wonderstruck’s Season 1 finale, John shares his most powerful teaching. He reveals how he eliminated fatigue and found a source of “jet fuel” in his own body. And he opens up about why getting older means embracing the spiritual world in deeper ways, and the connection he’s found between wonder and inner strength. “The whole idea of exploring inner space is such a road less traveled,” John tells host Elizabeth Rovere. “But it’s so full of wonder and awe and joy. Sitting down and meditating and breathing can change your life, and give you an experience of life that is so joyful and so fulfilled that you become what I call ‘weather proofed.’ You know: you’re not happy only when good things happen, and you’re not sad only when bad things happen. You experience them, but you’re weather proofed from letting them change who you are. Nothing has the power to change who we are.”
Visionary creator of communities and author of the book Belong, Radha Agrawal is the co-founder and CEO of Daybreaker, a one of a kind wellness movement and gathering of sunrise dancers that has held extraordinary events on five continents—for almost half a million people, including Oprah—over the course of the last ten years. While integrating music, movement and community, all in a substance-free, sun up setting, Radha has developed powerful, transformative ideas about moving past judgment towards a place of wonder and embracing dance as means to radical healing. “It sweeps you out of your head into this sort of spiritual realm,” Radha tells Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere. “It’s unlike any other experience I’ve ever felt.”
Focusing on esoteric rituals, gender and bodies in Hindu traditions, Sravana Borkataky-Varma is a research fellow at Harvard Divinity School, an instructional assistant professor of Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Houston, and sits on the Board of Trustees at Esalen Institute. From early childhood, Sravana experienced both clairvoyance and clairaudience. She sees and hears things others cannot perceive. At eight years old, mindful of these gifts, she began her initiation into Tantra and practices Hindu Śākta (Goddess) Tantra to this day. “Somehow, for a very complex history, Tantra gets understood in the context of sex,” Sravana tells Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere. “The culture absorbed it in a tiny little sliver.” By pushing back against this misperception, Sravana articulates a much richer narrative about what tantra really is—and why it matters.
In Father Tiso’s second Wonderstruck sit down with host, Elizabeth Rovere, he reveals more about his Himalayan adventure and gets personal about his own experiences with wonder and awe. From visions of Jesus Christ, to encountering holy visitors in his dreams, Father Tiso shares how his own spiritual practices, and his pursuit of wisdom, prepare him to embody and understand different levels of consciousness across life and death, even soothing cancer patients with visualization and guided meditation. “I have used meditation on a number of occasions with people who are dying,” Father Tiso says. “It does seem to help people connect with the inner structure, their own subtle body, to be strong in the face of death–not just stoically strong, but deeply, spiritually strong to reach the point of luminosity and gratitude.
Father Francis Tiso, a Catholic Priest and renowned scholar of Tibetan Buddhism, shares the unforgettable story behind his riveting book Rainbow Body and Resurrection: Spiritual Attainment, the Dissolution of the Material Body, and the Case of Khenpo A Chö. Khenpo A Chö was a Tibetan monk who, through retreat, prayer, and meditation, prepared his body to turn into radiant light upon his own death. When Khenpo A Chö died, he achieved this phenomenon (it’s called the rainbow body), and in the year 2000, Father Tiso traveled to Tibet to report on its profound significance and how it connects to resurrection across other religions, including the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “They started calling me the Jesus Lama,” Father Tiso tells Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere, marking one of the many surprising and tender moments from his remarkable journey.
Mary Reilly Nichols, director of the Yoga Studies program at Nalanda Institute of Contemplative Science in New York City, reflects on her transformational relationship with wonder, dating back to her time as a student at Harvard in the 1970s. When Mary first began feeling currents of energy coursing up her spine and into the crown of her head, hearing wind chimes and choral music unheard by others, she tried to distance herself from what it all would mean to her life. “I was trying to tamp it down,” Mary tells Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere. “Nobody understood.” From that initial state of resistance, Mary soon learned to embrace her awakening, ultimately relying on it as a foundation upon which she continues to elevate consciousness and change lives.
Through setting out to find meaning in his own life, John Vervaeke, a professor in the psychology department at the University of Toronto—and a YouTube sensation—has developed a fascinating framework and adopted a series of practices through which others can pursue and achieve a deeply meaningful life, too. In sharing his research and findings from the world of 4E cognition and consciousness (embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended), with Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere, John reveals the significance and logic of embracing faithfulness over certainty, how to do the work of reorienting ideas about reality and rationality, and why connectedness and love can be improved by a practice called circling. “People frequently say things like, ‘I’ve been hungry for this kind of intimacy, but I didn’t know it,’” says John. “They discover it and they’re lit up by it.”
As a student of Bharatanatyam, a form of sacred Indian classical dance, Daniela Riva connects with the divine using choreography that dates back more than two millennia. In developing her expertise, and her following as a performer, teacher, and author, Daniela tells Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere that it took years of dedication and surrender to understand how to move profound currents of energy throughout her body. During a period of awakening, while stomping her feet in service of her dance training, Daniela recalls feeling a jolt. “My teacher has a beautiful way to describe this,” Daniela tells Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere. “She used to tell me, ‘Daniela, this is like current. It’s like electricity. We need to channel this energy–otherwise, it is just pure energy, and it’s everywhere.'” Now, having harnessed this energy, Daniela shares how each of us can activate our own bodies in pursuit of empowerment, happiness, and spiritual growth.
Groundbreaking scientist, psychology professor and best-selling author Dacher Keltner’s latest book, AWE: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life is an instant classic. Supported by field work, cultural survey, and autobiography, this essential volume explores the many benefits of pursuing, encountering, and embracing awe as an emotion–and as a regularly occurring experience to which we all have access. As Dacher tells Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere, awe is also crucial to the future of social reform, urban planning and education. But, as Dacher explains, his own relationship with awe had been interrupted by grief after the death of his brother. “What went with him?” Dacher asks. “My capacity for awe.” In intimate detail, Dacher reveals how he reclaimed it.
Russell Brand, comedian, actor, author, seeker, and Stay Free podcast host reveals to Wonderstruck’s Elizabeth Rovere why spiritual pursuits keep him alive, which teachings anchor him, and how he manages his own “beautiful monsters” in the hope of converting anxiety into action and accessing efficacy through chaos. With singular humor, wide-ranging scholarship, and a heart-led connection to the profound, Russell shares how he negotiates the pull of ecstasy against the need for serenity, why he thinks he might miss out on true greatness, and, in tender detail, what’s brought him closest to the divine. “There was nothing between me and God for that little moment,” he says. “It has happened other times. It will happen continually if I forget myself.”
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