Our guest today is Mitra Rahbar, a master intuitive, teacher, singer/songwriter, and author of the award-winning book, Miraculous Silence by Penguin Random House. In her work that spans over 30 years she has guided many to unlock the gateway to true self-awareness through inner soul work. Her philanthropic works in the US and Middle East have been a powerful journey in her mission. Through music and spoken words she has created many albums and recordings that bring the listener deep insight and awareness. In such unprecedented times, Mitra’s philosophy of inner awakening and our connectivity is important now more than ever. Listen as she talks with us about meditation, inner peace, and finding one’s true calling.
Sam: [00:00:01] All right, here we go. Downloads for mindfulness apps hit 750,000 during the week of March 29th. A 25% increase from the weekly average in the months preceding. Android users also spent about 85% more time using those apps that week than normal. Master intuitive, award winning author, acclaimed speaker, teacher and artist Mitra Rahbar has spent the last three decades of her life bringing forth awareness, guidance and education to many around the world. She was born in Iran to a lineage of poets and her grandfather’s Sufi discipline. Mitra has built her life on the pillars of spiritual enlightenment, creative artistry and service. Mitra, it’s such a pleasure to welcome you to the show today.
Mitra Rahbar: [00:00:55] Thank you so much. I’m so looking forward to talking today.
Sam: [00:01:02] So, Mitra, you’re the author of an award winning book, Miraculous Silence. It was endorsed by a variety of both collaborators, as well as people you’ve worked with over time, like Jennifer Aniston and Sheryl Crow and others. Let’s start by defining mindfulness. What is it in your view? And equally important, what is it not?
Mitra Rahbar: [00:01:25] I think mindfulness is the allowance of seeing, love, and gratitude, and truth. And what it is not, it is not about denial. It is not about stepping away from our inner light, it is not about a specific one-sector thought. It is very vast.
Sam: [00:02:13] We’re in, I love that definition because we’re in a time you know, one could argue that the last 20 or 30 years has been a culture of real individualism and self-absorption. I mean, your work has been getting people away from that and to actually get them thinking about the context that they live in and their community as a whole. Do you think it’s been a different or an exceptional time when we put it in the historical context, or do we just go through cycles as human beings and as communities?
Mitra Rahbar: [00:02:51] I mean, when you look a little bit into history, you do see that every era has had its challenges. So in that way, it’s another era in history that has its challenges. However, I think that for two or three decades, we really were stepping away from basically a lot of truths that we were denying ourselves. And I think the last few years there has been a tremendous stress on many societies globally, the violence, the poverty that has escalated in the era of science and the era when there is no reason for there to be any level of poverty, for there to be any level of stepping away from mental health and education. Yet maybe those areas really were not identified, were not given to and therefore, they escalated. And what we witnessed this year has brought everything to light. So whatever was buried under the covers has come to light. So, yes, this is another era in history with his challenges. However, I do believe that this can be creating tremendous breakthroughs in our history and how we write it, if we really are mindful.
Sam: [00:04:48] That’s a great way to describe and contextualize it, thank you. Mitra, you were practically born into your chosen profession. But there was probably a decision point when you chose it just as much as it chose you. Can you describe that moment for us?
Mitra Rahbar: [00:05:06] Yes, I can. You know we have a saying in our country, in my native tongue that we say from us comes the willpower and the intention and from God or the universe comes the blessing of it. So when I was very young, like seven or maybe younger, I had a tremendous yearning in a way in my soul to really be of service and to sit and hear the stories or plights of others. And later, when I was in my pre teens, I was given the gift of higher intuition. And when I came to the U.S. and I studied and everything, it was just that people would come to me to seek guidance. And I really didn’t want that on some level. Maybe I wanted a little bit of it. But I didn’t want it to the level that it had become. And it was really basically much later that a book fell into my lap very much by, I would say, divine intervention. I had not bought this book but it was in my books that I had brought home from a bookstore. And it was about Elijah the Prophet. And the story was that Elijah did not want to be a prophet and he wanted to denounce it. But one day when his village really was in trouble, he turned to God and God said, we will give you the gifts of being a prophet but you cannot denounce it anymore. When I read this, I realized that the gifts we’ve been given is really an indication of what we are to do. What we are to do is not outside. It is within us. It is worn from us and through us. So then I really embraced it. And instead of not basically wanting to do it, I surrendered to it. I embraced it. And I let it take me on its own journey, which was quite remarkable and amazing as a soul.
Sam: [00:07:50] Mitra I love that story, because when you think about people you or I know or who are in our communities, even family members, it’s so hard to know what that calling is for, for you. And, you know, I’ve certainly had those very same moments. Is it something about our society or context or educational system that makes that quite hard to see? Is it something about our own spirituality that prevents us from seeing it? And you know, what made you accept it in that moment that even though you’d been reluctant to before that somehow in that moment, it crystallized that this was what you were meant to do?
Mitra Rahbar: [00:08:37] Well, first of all, I think a calling is quite different than a job or a career. A calling is something that you are called to do that basically becomes part of your, you know, your breath, your blood, your moments of awakening and sleeping and every part of your day. It’s an angst in a way, at the beginning of your soul, something that you’re yearning for. And I think people who have a calling, at some point they just really recognize it. But I think a lot of people are looking for what to do. What is their calling and calling is not always something that we do externally. It is who we are, it’s being true to ourselves. So that is really the true call for each one of us. To be who we are. But why is it hard? It’s because a part of us may not feel comfortable. May feel we’re being judged if we allow others to see us as really who we are. We may feel we are not going to be accepted. We’re going to be different. We’re not going to be a part of the more collective society. When I really chose or was chosen for this route, it was something that at that time was not very much seen in my culture in Iran or in the United States. None of my friends, none of the people I knew were in this basically realm of metaphysics at that time. So it was always a feeling of being a little different until I really realized that, wow, look at the journey this has taken me on. Look at the empowerment. Look at all the services I have been able to do. And then as I stood stronger and that I owned it more. I honored it more. And then it didn’t matter anymore if I was different. Actually, it was the “different” that gave me the ability to do the work that I was set to do.
Sam: [00:11:19] Very well expressed. I want to echo back to use some of what you’ve said in the past, which is that the lack of true self-awareness stems from a deeper issue, generally a lack of self-love, which results in us habitually dishonoring our deepest desires and needs. And over time, we stopped knowing who we are. What do you think it is that makes some people deeply self aware of that? And so, you know, working with you, incorporating other mindfulness techniques into their life brings them back to sort of themselves and their center. But others really struggle with this.
Mitra Rahbar: [00:12:05] I think, you know, it’s very hard to choose to do inner work. It requires, not only an act of courage, but an act of belief or faith in one’s self or in honoring one’s self. And it’s never easy, but once you open that gateway, you never stop. But you are forever, I am forever a student of self realization and mindfulness. Because until I am here and I am breathing, I am here to learn and gain knowledge. And I think why some people have such a hard time and really struggle or really fight this, because it is hard to sit in the quiet, because that’s where everything emerges from within us. And we see all the things that in a way we need to confront. And I think some people may not have the tools to confront this. I don’t feel it’s about strength. I feel it’s about having the tools. And to those listeners who are listening to this. I feel everybody can have access to these tools and everybody has that ability to look within just it may need to be done gently, slowly and with love, not with judgment.
Sam: [00:13:51] I mean, getting away from judgment feels like the central issue plaguing our society these days. Mitra, I want to go back to what you just said, which was super interesting about the variety of tools that are available to us. You know, in my own case. I I learned transcendental meditation and, you know, about a year and a half ago now and incorporated it into my yoga and sort of other practices. And it really helped to just give me a moment for myself and a time to sort of let the mind wander and focus, you know, equally, people you and I know transcendental meditation doesn’t work for them. What is it about? You know, there isn’t a one size fits all, I think is sort of my conclusion with the various tools. But tell us your thoughts on that.
Mitra Rahbar: [00:14:46] Yeah, I think, you know, I was– this reminded me, what you just said. I was doing a workshop in Iran with young girls between 15 and 25 who were in very difficult situations like runaway brides, or there were girls, you know, people who were on the street. And I started with one thing. I think this is universal: self talk. Self talk begins with me. Giving myself the permission to love myself. So instead of saying, Mitra, you can’t do this. Mitra, you shouldn’t. Mitra you’re not worthy. To begin with Mitra you can. Mitra I do love you, Mitra you are goodness. And I think if we begin with the language and how we talk to ourselves, rather than being the harsh judge, being the kind of parent. That is a tremendous tool that really just takes seconds each day. It’s free. It can be done anywhere. Also, some people have a hard time with sitting and meditating. But one of the best forms of meditation is walking meditation, as the Native Americans used to believe in this so much. As every step you take, you’re walking away from a thought pattern or an anxiety. You don’t need to think about it. Your steps will do the work for you. So those couple are a couple of the tools. Repeating a mantra to yourself that you can create yourself. It doesn’t have to be a mantra that is from a scripture or a different philosophy. It can just be a very simple mantra, like, I am born of love. I am the child of light. I am worthy. Any of those repeating it during the day slowly opens us to believing that we are worthy. And once we believe that we have worth. Then the other tools, in a way, fall in place easier because now we are saying, I believe that I am worthy to look within me.
Sam: [00:17:29] Well said. In addition to being a spiritual guide, Mitra, you’re an accomplished musician. Tell us about how your music fits in with what you do.
Mitra Rahbar: [00:17:41] Well, you know Sam, I believe that all these come from the same channel, whether I write, whether I sing, whether I speak. It comes to me from the same channel, which means I just allow myself to be in that space of receiving love. And to me, music is a very, very high channel of that because it allows us to open our being in a way that sometimes words fall short and sometimes that’s why I do– I sing and I choose words, or sometimes I don’t choose words. I just chant. To me, it’s just being a conduit, a channel. And that’s why I love the music I do. It’s to me a continuation or interwoven with all else that I do.
Sam: [00:18:50] You’re a spiritual guide, but you’re also an entrepreneur. Mitra, is it hard to balance the two sometimes. Do you always find them in sync?
Mitra Rahbar: [00:18:59] You know, I think in this, in 2020 and this new era, whatever we do, we need to be an entrepreneur in a way. Because I think there is not that one sidedness of something. A spiritual teacher or guide has many facets now, in a way, and there are many channels and mediums to reach people. So it is important to be an entrepreneur. The only thing, like any other profession or any other work, is that we have to be mindful that what we are allowing is aligned with our message, with our, you know, truth. And that’s the only thing that we have to be very mindful of. Like I remember about 15 years ago, working with a high profile person, I was approached by a magazine and that magazine offered me a lot of money to speak about this person. Well, that was not aligned with my work ethics and my principles. So someone else may have said, oh, that’s a great entrepreneur way, you can get your message out. But to me, that was not living my truth and not being aligned with my higher purpose.
Sam: [00:20:39] Yeah, I think consistency with our values has to always be at the forefront of our minds. Yes, another extension of your work, Mitra, is philanthropy in Iran as well as elsewhere. Can you describe to us what you do in this realm and the impact it’s had on the people that you work with?
Mitra Rahbar: [00:21:00] Yes. Well, you know, I have a very big love and sense of responsibility and service for my native country, Iran. And many, many years ago, when I would travel there, I would teach classes to the public and workshops to the public, to nonprofit organizations and to the general public. And recently, in the past two years, I have created a program that is targeted for not only orphanages, but of various centers where there are children who may be in poverty. And my hope is through these programs that are created, which are really based on the principles of awareness and mindfulness from a younger age, from gratitude to not comparing ourselves to others, to how we channel our anger. I think that if I can bring forth these programs there, then it will really help greatly, because especially when we’re young and we’re in a position where there is not much, we need that guidance. We need those tools to be brought forth for us. Over here I created a program called Servants of Love, which is an extension of my work, which is going to be my new book, actually, which is a program that has about a year training, which is about really service and how if we wish to be people of service, there are pillars and there are ways we have to step into to create that life for ourself. So, yes, I really believe very strongly that the biggest joy, as Tagore said, is being of service, and you can’t equate that with any monetary gain. And for me, it is always my goal to be of service and bring that energy of nurturing and joy and awareness intertwined. I think awareness has a lot of joy in it, for there is a lot of gratitude.
Sam: [00:23:43] I love the way you express that. Thank you. As you look back, Mitra, you’ve had such a long and amazing career. But think back now to when you were 25. Looking back, what are two pieces of advice you would give your 25 year old self?
Mitra Rahbar: [00:24:02] Do not fear yourself. Do not fear your greatness. Do not fear your love. Fear was a big, big one for me and another one is. It’s really okay to be different. It’s okay to be different. All the people in this world, a lot of them have created wonderful things, have at one point allowed themselves to be different. So it’s okay. So I would say fear and just love for who I am.
Sam: [00:24:44] Amazing. Thank you. Last question, Mitra. What’s the lesson you’ve learned from your journey? I mean, you’ve had an incredible set of experiences in so many different parts of the world and worked with so many different kinds of people. What’s the lesson that you’ve learned that you’d like to share with us today?
Mitra Rahbar: [00:25:04] The people all over the world have the same hopes and fears. No matter where you go, whether you’re in a small village somewhere in the Middle East or in a big city. That we are all. Questioning always our own love and our own acceptance, and I think if we understand that we are really all of the same cloth, but of different designs. Then we can better allow each other in our hearts and lives. I think we should allow the walls to come down. And if we look, we’ll see instead of the walls, there’s just a garden full of flowers and we are one of the flowers amongst many.
Sam: [00:26:08] I can visualize the garden you’re talking about metaphor, I wish. You know, we live in such a uncertain world at the moment, but I hope we can get to that garden.
Mitra Rahbar: [00:26:20] Yeah. We live in very uncertain times. But yet if you just take a walk, you will see the tree is still standing tall. The sky’s still blue and the birds are still singing. So it’s in life there is the energy of light and dark. There is the energy of fear and love. And they intertwine at times because we face both of them. But it is always if, I always say this in the biggest auditorium, that there is no light, it’s pitch black. It takes only one match to light up the entire auditorium. So the energy of just that goodness within us, that hope within us, that light within us that is born of us can overcome. I believe everything.
Sam: [00:27:20] Absolutely agree. We have to be able to find it within ourselves. As you said. Yes. Here’s something else you need to know. We spend an increasing amount of our time worrying about how congested our lives are between the work we do, the personal responsibilities we have, the possessions we own and the daily to do lists we make for ourselves. It’s gotten even worse with technology. We’ve begun to fill any remaining space with a barrage of virtual interactions, and it’s left us with less and less space for ourselves, our creativity and our spirits. Thank you to App Annie, Forbes, and Mind Body Green for the data cited in today’s show. Mitra, we love that you’ve devoted yourself to spiritual enlightenment, service and artistry by teaching and guiding such a large number of people around the world today. Thank you for being with us on Ideamix radio.
Mitra Rahbar: [00:28:18] Thank you so much Sam. Thank you.
Sam: [00:28:23] Wonderful.
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