MEET THE MUSES: SEANE CORN INTERVIEWED BY DR. MELODY MOORE ~ FRIENDS, YOGIS, IRREVERENT, BADASS CHANGE-MAKERS.
How do you know each other?
Seane: Ohh! How do we know each other? Let’s see, Dr. Melody Moore came into an Off the Mat Into the World training, and I didn’t know that you were a doctor at that time. I didn’t know what you did, but I thought you were very alive, really present, open, vulnerable, very emotional. I remember that, but not in a weird indulgent way; you were just present to your emotions and weren’t particularly shut down about them and it wasn’t until the end of the training I think that I figured out that you were really smart. It hadn’t occurred to me that I was dealing with someone who was actually really astute, smart accomplished.That was my first impression of you.
How long have you known each other?
Seane: 6 years?
What do you have in common?
Seane: I think that what we have in common is a genuine interest in personal growth, in self-inquiry. I think what we also have in common is that we can actually be genuinely interested in other people and remember to take time to actually ask and be interested in how each other are doing and how other people are doing in the world around us. I think we are both generous people with our time, with our energy, with our money, with things like that. We don’t withhold or covet, we like a good dirty joke, laughing…we have that in common. I think we are both irreverent and in on the joke very often. We take ourselves both very, very seriously and not seriously at all. Funny, I think we are both funny, but I think ultimately you are probably more sensitive than I am. I am much more shutdown and repressed in some ways, but I have a different kind of sensitivity. We approach sensitivity a little bit differently. Oh, and we both have dads that died on the exact same day.
Melody: That is true.
What do you admire in each other?
Seane: What do I admire in you? There is so much. your commitment, your ambition. Your ambition is not single-minded. Your ambition is to serve, to grow, to challenge yourself, to expand. You are not satisfied necessarily with the status quo. I think you challenge yourself. I don’t think you are competitive with the world around you, but you are competitive with yourself. You are always pushing yourself to go a little bit further, to take more risks, I admire that in you. I admire that in people. I aspire to that myself. I admire that you are a really good friend, you have always been a really good friend. You are a good listener. You are patient. You are nonjudgmental. I admire that a lot, that’s also something that is very important to me and I think it says a lot about someone’s character, but it’s not obsessive … ahh actually that’s not true, your work ethic is probably pretty extreme. But I do admire that. Your love of young people, especially girls, and your commitment to empower them by using your skills, your language, your personality. You are so well-suited to work with many different populations, but particularly that population. There is something about you that is like this eternal youth that I think young people could really relate to, regardless of how physically old you get. There is a light in you, a curiosity, a playfulness that I think young people, young girls, really just connect with, and I admire that. Let’s see…there are so many things that I admire – your openness to life’s terms and not trying to control them, your willingness to heal, to grieve for your dad really BIG, you grieved Liberty (my dog) really big and you were willing to go to that place without shaming it or making it somehow not strong. I really admire that connection you have to your vulnerability. I think I may have said it in the other question but it probably comes up again and again in a lots of these answers that you really are a genuine friend to those that you love. I mean you are just solid. You are there and that’s something in my own life. I know my potential to be a great friend but because of my schedule, because of all that other nonsense, I often feel like I fall short of how I would like to show up in my friendships, and you really show up beautifully in your friendships, and you have a very diverse, very eclectic group of friends in your life, and I think that you treat everybody with the same amount of just consideration, loyalty and generosity. I admire that you write thank you notes. Actually, I was just going through I was cleaning my house like a banshee to get ready for my sabbatical and I found all of these notes from you - birthday notes, Christmas notes, thank you notes….
Melody: Thank you, is this the best interview that you have ever given?
Seane: I am telling you.
Melody: Do you love that it’s only about me?
Seane: It’s all about you.
Melody: I figured you would like a break actually from talking about yourself.
Seane: Ok what’s next about you?
Melody: Alright now we get to you, now we get to the boring part…
Seane: I like the other part better.
Tell us about yourself:
What makes you leap out of bed?
What makes me leap out of bed? My tea gets me out of bed in the morning. You know, what gets me out of bed in the morning? I have an enormous amount of gratitude because I get to pretty much manifest any idea, project or vision that is important to me and there is rarely going to be push back. Quite the opposite; if I come to the table with something I can often get it done, whether it’s getting other people or even organizations, corporations to congregate their energy around it, and I recognize that’s an incredible privilege, and the fact that I get to wake up and watch my dreams come into fruition…that’s what makes me leap out of bed in the morning. It’s just this overwhelming sense of gratitude. Perhaps a little sense of urgency that things need to get done before I die. Not that I’m the only person in the world that can make a difference, I wouldn’t suggest that, but the very short amount of time I’m in this body, I do feel a sense of urgency to complete something, to really, meaningfully be a part of something, and to give everything I have to do that. So when I do take that final breath, I can really in my own body think, “yeah! I showed up in this lifetime. I did my best. I didn’t waste the moments, and that knowing is what gets me up and motivated every day.
What do you dream about now?
Well right now is an interesting time because what I’m really dreaming about is space…I’m about to begin a contraction period and an important one, not because I’m interested in slowing down or stopping, or even really taking a break, but I’m very aware that the next phase of my life is important in how I show up,, and there needs to be some space to exhale to reflect on who I’ve been, what I believe in, what was meaningful to me, what’s becoming meaningful to me in many ways, to detox some of the belief patterns that are embedded in my body that might not be really true for me anymore so that I can create more space for just a different level of maturity and that’s a word I’ve been using a lot over the last year because what comes up for me is that I’m ready and willing to step into a level of my own maturity and to do that requires grounded-ness, self-confidence, and a deep, deep level of not just inquiry, but acceptance. So right now that’s where I’m at, taking this exhale, letting everything contract so that I can emerge in a way that the expansion will have more space, more air; that some of the intensity is dialed down and is replaced by something a little bit more elegant. I don’t know what that looks like but that’s what motivates me, right now; that’s what really excites me. This is the time to reflect and to be in a very personal inquiry which I really haven’t had the time and space for, not to this degree, in a very, very long time.
I’m so excited for you, what matters the most to you?
What matters most to me… organically I want to say my family first, but unfortunately, at the same time, they’re also the ones that I can take for granted the most because they’re just here and stable and loving and accepting, but in my soul I know that my family is first above everything else. Actually that’s not true, my relationship with God is first above everything else, and if I don’t have my relationship with God I do not have my relationship with myself and therefore can’t have a relationship with my family. So God first, then family, but if I’m looking at it in terms of visioning it from negativity the same thing that has always been important to me which is being of service, being useful in some capacity, sharing my skills and my gifts, my talents, my ideas, my interest, my money, my time, and my energy to serve whether it’s another person, or this planet, or animals and, hopefully, finding ways to put the needs of others before myself get fed from that, and I always have; it’s a really big part of my nature, and I don’t expect all people to have this kind of a that call, but I feel most harmonious, most in balance, most in alignment when I’m in right action and when that action is motivated by love, by mindfulness and compassion, and I know that in my body when I’m doing it for…when the intentions are correct. That doesn’t mean I always do it well. But internally, when my intentions are correct, I just feel that I’m living fully in my purpose and it’s in alignment with who I am. I can be mean spirited sometimes like with my family, not so much with my friends, but with the people who I know are not going to leave me. I can be passive aggressive – little sarcastic digs, little critical things like that – and when that happens, I feel it in my body. It is such a disregard to my nature when that comes up for me; it’s so out of alignment with my soul, and very often I like to use those two as a parameter because I can truly feel when that kind of attitude or behavior comes up and out, but that’s just not who I am. But when I’m in service to someone else and when I’m activated by generosity and love and mindfulness and gratitude there is… I feel very at ease in my skin and knowing that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, that’s authentic to my nature and, again I don’t suppose this is the same for everybody, I think everybody has a different reality that they serve, that’s important to them, that keeps them in alignment, but this is what is really important to me.
What are some of your archetypes?
Oh God! Some of my archetypes? Child, victim, princess, provocateur, but I’m also the queen, the teacher, the seer, the rebel. Who else am I? The artist, I’ve been a prostitute, I’m still the prostitute. The channel, a warrior; definitely I have a warrior spirit, the wounded warrior. I think like everybody, I’m complex, so it’s going to go across the board. If I had a list of archetypes in front of me, I would pretty much check them all off. I would be like yep, yep… all of them, the good and the funky. But I would like to think that I’m easing into the crone. I hate that word; I wish there was a different word for it because it sounds so guttural. I’m not loving that word, although my intention is kind of to reclaim it, to become the wise one. Yeah, I think those are my archetypes, but there are a shit load more.
What legacy do you want to leave?
Authenticity, empowerment. It would make me so happy to know that maybe what I model back to people is to be true to yourself, not being afraid of your voice, taking risks, doing the deep inner work. I would like to be remembered for my friendships, I would like to be remembered as a generous person, as someone who was kind and thoughtful and caring. It would be nice for people to say, “she was real, she did not come to the table with a huge ego, she was sensible, she was fierce, smart, funny.” I would like people to know that I’m funny… I don’t think people know how hysterical I am and I would like to be known as someone who was absolutely the life of the party; not quite like that I’ll take funny. If I can leave a legacy in the yoga community, it would be the importance of service, taking action, of using whatever platform you have, no matter how small it might be, to raise awareness, to serve other people in a way that creates freedom, peace, equality, commonsense. If I can leave a legacy of empowering people to want to do that in their own community and if they model their intention after the ways I’ve used my own platform, I would be really proud of that, very, very proud of that. I don’t want to be remembered for my hair, I don’t want to be remembered for my body, or my strength, or my flexibility, or the amount of covers that I’ve done, or the amount of attention I’ve received through the media. That means nothing to me, although I’m grateful for it, it’s not the legacy I want to leave behind. It’s the hard work, the authenticity, the realness and the way in which I’ve used my platform that make me feel satisfied and happy.
Tell us about your work, what project are you working on now?
My focus at Off The Mat Into The World is really in up-leveling our own trainings to become way more informed around the intersection between ancestral cultural trauma, social justice and the choices that we make today as citizens; the unconscious meaning from the way in which our belief system based on our heritage influences the way in which we see the world, the words we use, and the way we interact that really interest me in regards to the practice of yoga today. I’m no longer – at least not right now interested to encouraging and inspiring people to get out into their community and to be of service. What I’m more interested in right now is educating the people who are interested in doing that, so that when they do go out in their community, there is a level of intelligence, sophistication, awareness that will help not only their service, but will support the community that they’re engaging with in a way that doesn’t create more harm. I think in the past, I wasn’t as aware of how much harm we can do unless we begin to really understand thing like oppression, racism, sexism, genderism, ageism, ableism etc. We must go even deeper in and really unpack some of our shadow beliefs, so that our service is more informed. So up-leveling our training is very, very important to us in house. What always interests me is elevating the other leaders around me who are really extraordinary in what they do, say, believe, and teach but might not have access to main stream visibility or on certain platforms; I’m interested in being able to use my connections and platforms as a way to help to empower and elevate others. This has always been very important to me, and it has become even more so now. So that’s what we’re really looking to do with ‘Off The Mat’ as we continue our trainings, creating more opportunities for others. I think what we’re really investigating is going online, not on podcast, but in doing visuals streaming, online training streaming, and building faculty from within so that we have broader access, can make it more accessible. These are the things we working on; then again, it’s a contraction. Every time a project comes up for ‘Off The Mat’, I feel like I’m the first one that says, “no, no!” I don’t want to do anything unless it is impeccable and in alignment. So many great opportunities come up, but Suzanne, Hala and myself have a tendency, over the last year and a half, to just shake our heads saying nope, not the right time. I think it reflects where we’re at; we have changed over the last few years, and in order for us to do that, we had to really go in and learn and there was a contraction, a letting go. I think it’s being reflected in the organization right now. Our commitment now is to provide education, information and other leadership skills that are way more informed than Hala, Susanne and myself, and try to broaden our faculty.
Why does it matter that you elevate other voices?
You know, I don’t know… really I don’t know. Again, it’s an embodied thing; it’s like I know when something is right and when something is wrong internally, like I know when I’m insecure and I know when I’m confident and in my body. It always been like that. I often remember stories very early in my yoga career when I was just a local teacher, but very successful local teacher, and a very young woman, and I share this story openly because she has shared this story publicly many times, otherwise I don’t think I would share it. But this very beautiful, young, high energy, super charismatic teacher cornered me in the back of my yoga studio and started to ask me all these questions about my career, like how did I do this and how I got students, and she was really digging to find out some information, and I felt like my body lock down, like I’m not going to tell her anything. I felt threatened, I felt insecure, I felt competitive, and as soon as I felt connected to those sensations, I knew immediately what I had to do, and I said to her, “here is how this is going to go. Let’s you and me have lunch, and I will answer any question that you have but only on one condition -when you’re a famous teacher doing incredibly well and some young teacher comes to you who is smarter than you, prettier than you, more charismatic, more charming that you do for him or her exactly what I’m going to do for you.” I said, “if you can agree to that, then I’m an open book, but if you can’t agree to that, then I’m not open to sharing this information with you.” I remember her just taking it in and then saying to me , “okay you got it.” That teacher was Natasha and she shares that story very often. Natasha is one of the most generous teachers, a true mentor. I have witnessed her over the years do for others exactly what I did for her, and I remember that when that happened between her and I, it felt right. I knew in my body that’s exactly what I’m supposed to do. That other feeling was just fear and ego. It was like, “fuck her I’m not going to give her any information.” I knew right away that my role was going to be to share, always share, give it away as much as possible; my experience is the more I give it away, the more I share, the more it comes back to me. I’m also very confused by my success and the access that I have had over these many years, but on many levels, I recognize this as a privilege, I know it’s a gift. It could have easily happened to someone else, but for whatever reason, it happened to me, and because of that, I also feel it’s very, very important that I use this privilege and this platform as mindfully and as generously as I can. The moment I make it about me solely is the moment I believe it will all go away. It would have to because then it would be the lesson that I need to learn, and I’m not interested in learning that lesson. I would like to continue this path of abundance. I think that part of creating that abundance is sharing that abundance with others and getting out of the way. I can’t really control someone else’s destiny or the way in which they will use their opportunities, but I meet other people who have something unique to offer, their voices are different than mine, I can feel it that their vision, and if it was available, it could quite potentially serve so many people, people that I could never personally touch, people who don’t even know who I am. If I can utilize the access that I have to help to elevate others, it just feels right to me and it’s not like I do that with everybody. I meet certain people, you for example, I meet certain souls on the path where I’m just very clear in my body that whatever I can do, and it’s really no skin off my ass, it’s not like I’m giving it a lot of thought, it is just certain things come up and I immediately know, oh this belong to Melody, this belong to so and so. I will make those connections, I will make the suggestions, then I will get out of the way. But if I don’t make the suggestion and if I don’t make the connection then I feel like I’m getting in the way of someone else’s opportunity, and I don’t mean your opportunity, I mean the people who you can help and that doesn’t feel right. So that’s my long answer.
I think that’s why you’re such an inspiration, because your capacity to be so generous is one of the things I love about you. I think that’s what actually differentiates you from other famous (or whatever) yoga teachers is that you’re interested in elevating other people and really supporting the efforts of others, not just yourself. And I feel so many yoga students and just people in general are inspired by you.
So who inspires you?
Oh well! My biggest inspiration would have been Mona Miller. Mona is dead now, but she was nuts and she would appreciate me saying this. I have never met someone who did such deep inner work to be so funny and excited, non-judgmental, encouraging. The way in which she approached this level of self inquiry was something that I have never experienced before. Her humanity, authenticity, she was just who she was and was so comfortable in her skin even though she was so fucking weird and yet so comfortable in her skin. Never in my life, have I been so seen by someone and valued and validated, and I can only hope that I somehow absorbed some of that in myself and in my facilitation and in my teaching. She is a massive inspiration. Mona was in my life for 11 years very deeply, very intimately, and her impact lives within me today. She will definitely always be a huge inspiration, and of course there will always be Marianne Williamson. She was one of the first, back in the day, that spoke in a language that I understood about God and about forgiveness and healing. I was able to relate to her articulation and that had never happened to me before. God always felt so mythological and separate, and the way in which she used her language of love to bring God into earth and into the body just opened my heart. Carolyn Myss was also a huge inspiration for me at a time as was Anodea Judith. These are women that have been essential in my personal development. Maty Ezraty was a true mentor to me, and…I’ve not yet been willing to take on that role of mentor and like stake claim; I would rather be a good friend. The word mentor always trips me out a little bit. Maty was an example of a true mentor, and she inspires me as Istart to look into what being a mentor can be for me. I want to be able to pull that in more, I want to be a mentor like that on a more esoteric level. My mom, of course, will always be an inspiration, her acceptance. She is nonjudgmental, so funny, bawdy. I really appreciate irreverence in life, not taking yourself too seriously, and she has inspired me about that.
That’s a good start, when and where are you most inspired?
When and where? I mean I get my most inspiration being at home in isolation. You know as social as I am out in the world, I think when they talk about an introvert getting fed by being alone, I get fed more by being alone than I do when am around people. Although I am very social and I love being around people, I find that more physically and emotionally draining than fulfilling. Whereas being alone, I am very, very fed. When I am alone and I am in that more isolated space, information comes to me so quickly, it’s just so available at home in my yoga practice and my meditation practice. I think early on though, I got inspiration during my yoga classes with Bryan Kest back in the 90s when Power Yoga and Vinyasa Flow was just beginning. There was an intensity on a physical level that I have never experienced before in a yoga class, because it wasn’t available, it wasn’t like that then. Those are some of my most inspirational times, because in those earlier years, it felt almost literally like the floodgate opened and it was the first time the dam broke and the outpouring of energy and the influx of information was amazing. I don’t know if a time like that in my life can ever be replicated; it was so new, so unfathomable for me, so organic, artistic. I don’t even know what to compare it to. I would imagine it’s like a painter being frustrated because they can’t capture a sunset, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, the color comes and becomes alive. That’s how it felt for me. Everything came alive; the colors were just available to me and I didn’t even know that the colors had been missing. I would have to say that those were the most magical, inspirational times of my yoga practice. Everything just got brighter, and it was the most illuminating and exciting time of my experience in yoga. I would like to replicate that in my teaching, that feeling, that sensation, that experience that I had earlier on. It is my hope that people leave my class with that same sense of like, “Holy fuck!” I hope their world is a little brighter and they are more excited and inspired. A veil has been pulled aside and so those earlier years deeply influence the way that I am motivated in the classroom now, and why I use language the way that I do, and the way in which I try to create an arc in each class. Its specific, it’s very strategic, but it’s meant to inspire those same early experiences that I had because they were transformative. I have had many moments since that have been very extraordinary, but I think it’s kind of like a first love; you know you can have many, many loves after that, but the loves are different, they are more mature, they are more realized, maybe even cynical. Whereas in the beginning you, are just like a big dumb puppy dog, just completely available and open to this new thing. That’s how I felt about my experience of yoga very early on, and it’s like you never forget your first love. It’s something that I always try to share in my yoga class, to give my students the same kind of experience.
Where do you look for inspiration in your daily life?
It doesn’t take long to find inspiration in my own practice. Of course, without that there, is nothing, because there is no availability. I know me, I know how intense I am and how quickly I shut down, and once I shut down, I cannot see the magic, so I have to do my practice. After that, when I read something or see something, my heart is just more open to it, I am more like “ohh” rather than “heh.” I rely on yoga to keep me available, so yoga is where i am going to look for inspiration first. I really love to go online and read about things that other people are doing. I am a big mush that way, that’s my dirty little secret that I am really emotional behind the scenes. I get genuinely moved when I hear about other people doing things for other beings, people, animals things like that, that just inspires me. I just watched a video this morning of like a bunch of people cutting a whale out from being entrapped and snared by nets. I was in fucking tears by how amazing human nature can be, how amazing people often are, the risk that they will take putting their own life in jeopardy to be of service to someone else that moves me in the same way that I want to be that person who sends thank you cards. I would like to think that I am that person that would also do that, but I don’t know if I am. I would like to think that if there was something happening that required immediate attention that I would be that person who would step up and take responsibility and do what’s right even if it might be at risk to myself. I don’t know if that’s true; it has rarely been tested and only to a moderate degree. I don’t know if there was a train coming, and I needed to jump down to save someone’s life, but it meant I was going to die; I don’t know if I would be like, “okay, bye-bye…” I do look for inspiration in the actions of other people. If they can do it, I can do it. That’s what motivates me. It’s not often in words, meaning I’m not often picking up books and reading inspirational things. Reading can get me going depending on what it is, but I like action. I have always been motivated by action, so I like to hear, to see, to know what’s going on and who is doing what.
Which brings us to activism what’s your definition of activism?
The other day I did this interview with an 11-year-old boy who has this online thing and believes that if the youth can get transformed by yoga and meditation at a young age it can change the world. I agreed to be interviewed by him, which was really interesting and really sweet because he asked me the very same question, and I had to hesitate. You know when I’m talking to an 11-year-old boy, I can’t use the same language that I would use. I don’t deal with 11 years olds, I deal grown-ups all the time, so when I realized I was going to answer that question and that the language was going to be too grown-up, too sophisticated, too out of reach, I was really stumped. I knew I had to simplify it, and for a moment, it was really difficult. I had to take a second to think, but what is activism? How do you explain activism to a child. Afterwards, I thought from now on, I am going to define activism through this new lens, to simplify it, because it’s the art of action, it’s the doing, it is the intention of engagement, of being a part of something, using your words, your body, your thoughts, and your intentions to move the needle so as to create change. Even the way I am describing it now is still way too sophisticated, so I am really working on how to simplify that word because it is simple. Activism is to act. So it’s just interesting that you asked me that question because I‘ve really thought a lot about it since that young boy asked me because I think it needs to be that simple for all people.
Why is activism important to you?
If you want to be a part of creating change, you have to engage. It is important to me because the word yoga translates to union, to unite, and in the yoga community, we use it very freely. We literally say things like “we are one” and although I believe that true, I also recognize the hypocrisy of that because although we all are connected, we are not all the same, and it’s these differences that I think have to be acknowledged. Injustice exists, racism exists, sexism exists, etc. There are more people than not who don’t have access to things like social services, resources, clean air, water, food, respect, dignity. For someone who claims to be a yogi and chooses to take ownership of that as a lifestyle to not engage in a way that heals those limits that create the separation and allow some people to have and some people to not have is a level of hypocrisy that I don’t want to participate in. To earn the privilege of being a yogi means I also have to accept the responsibility of activation and to raise awareness to confront limits to beliefs, to inspire change so that equality and access does exist for all. Not that I’m naive in thinking that I can actually create this change for everybody, but if I do nothing, then I’m the problem. Activation means participation and to participate means that I am part of the doing that creates allies that then can create change. For me, being a yogi and being an activist are not separate; they are one and the same. Again not all people believe this, and there has been a huge push back over the years in my experience from people who think that things like politics and social justice should be kept separate from the practice of yoga. That makes zero sense to me whatsoever. I do respect that people are in varying places on their own path, but where I am on my path, that is a non-negotiable. If I want to be a yogi, and I do want to be a yogi, then I also must be an activist. I am not afraid of confrontation, I am not afraid of going up, I don’t like to use a word against, but going up against what might be opposition or conflicting points of view. I would like to think that I have good enough tools that, in the face of conflict, I am able to stay fair-minded, thoughtful, sensitive, mindful. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t, but I do have access to the tools and so, again, how do I not be engaged when I have been blessed enough to have access to the tools that allow me to be a little bit more integrated when I am in conflict. If you want to be a part of creating change, you have to engage.