When we invited Rachael to join us on The Listen Podcast, we had no idea that her interview would be recorded against the backdrop of powerful protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. As a self-described social justice minister, Rachael had much to share about first becoming politically aware while at seminary, examining what it means to be a white woman, and taking to the streets and raising her voice in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I found myself pulled out into the street by my heart.” (Rachael, 47:57)
Like most others, Rachael’s path has not been a straight one. She was raised in a Catholic home in Louisville, KY, left home to study theatre, sold cheese in a NYC farmer’s market, and spent time on a remote monastery where she ultimately decided to apply to seminary. Now a Unitarian Universalist minister with her own congregation in Amherst, MA, Rachael sees herself leaning in to her work in social justice. And it’s fair to say we’re all a little richer for it.
Rachael Hayes is a Unitarian Universalist minister serving a congregation in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is spending the pandemic learning how to minister to people she can’t share space with, and walking her dog Yuly a lot.
Arun’s interview is full of insights on the world we live in. As a yoga therapist and an Ayurvedic practitioner, he sees his craft as a path to discovering oneself and to understanding life. At a time when we are enduring a global pandemic that is changing the world, Arun shares his vision of the international response we are witnessing. According to him, it is up to us, the people of the world, to use our power to change course and build a better future for the generations to come.
“The power of the people of the world uniting for peace is more than any force that may try and oppose it.” (Arun, 47:57)
Arun sees the global pandemic as another way that nature is fighting back. Humanity is out of alignment and we have been deaf to her call to come back to ourselves and find stillness. Stillness is our essence. We can abandon it, but it can never abandon us. We just need to slow down, listen, learn and heal. We cannot align with fear.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Arun’s teachings. You can learn more by listening to the full interview or visit his website yogarasayana.com, where you will find information on upcoming workshops, including Healing the Heart, Healing the Mind.
Arun Deva is an Ayurvedic Practitioner, an Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist, and a Vinyasa Krama certified yoga teacher. The founder of Arunachala Yoga & Ayurveda, Arun has the pleasure of serving both the National & California State Ayurvedic Associations, including as a Board Member. Arun teaches internationally, lectures at conferences, writes articles for various publications, has been featured on both radio and television and has a clinic for Ayurveda and yoga therapy in Los Angeles. He also teaches the Ayurveda and Yoga modules for many Teacher Training Programs around the world and is Director of Ayurveda at LMU’s YTRX Program. Born in India, where he began his studies as a child, Arun has made his home in Los Angeles since 1977.
Even though Sarah grew up in a Christian household, she drifted away from religion when she was 17 years old. After years of partying and doing her thing, she started looking for a deeper meaning at age 28. She researched multiple religions and discovered that merely picking and choosing her favorite elements of a religion is not an option. Just when she was looking into Islam, she met the man who would become her husband. He came from Egypt and was a non-practicing Muslim.
It soon became clear to Sarah that she would convert to Islam. She found a sense of peace and dignity, as well as a loving community that changed her life. She started wearing the hijab and went to University. She used her degrees to work as a teacher at Islamic schools. She found everything she was ever looking for.
“I think we all find our path to God, and Islam happens to be my path to God, and the path that has worked for me.” (Sarah, 38:56)
However, being a Muslim in America wasn’t always easy, especially after September 11th. Even though Sarah never felt seriously threatened, she decided to stay at home for a few days after the attacks. Listen to her interview to find out more about her experiences, her insights and her decision to wear the hijab.
Sarah Ronan is a 49-year-old American who raised four children while completing two university degrees, including a Master’s in Education. She has used this degree to travel the world and teach abroad. She is currently an elementary librarian at the largest Islamic school in the south, which is located in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas.