A Guide for Conscious Living since 2009
FEATURE - July 2015 - Santa Fe
An Inside-Out Job:
Q + A with Heather Robertson and Ellen Davis
By Devon Jackson
Later this month (July 22-24) Evolving columnist Heather Robertson and her friend, spiritual mentor Jane Ellen Davis will be hosting a retreat at the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort + Spa. Based on Davis’ updated version of her book Unlock Your Heart: Goal-Setting from the Inside Out, the three-day sleepover will consist of guided exercises from Davis and Robertson, along with ample doses of yoga, meditation, and massage.
Recently, Evolving sat down with these two proponents of heart consciousness to talk about the book, their retreat, and finding joy and strength in one’s core values—among other goodies.
What was the original impetus for the first edition?
Jane: In 2002, I was doing spiritual mentoring and life purpose education with clients and a number of them said, This needs to be in book form. People need to have this information. So I wrote the book. But I found out that it really does need coaching because it’s all about finding out your core values, getting into who you are on the inside.
Then two years ago I met Heather. I was volunteering at the New Mexico Women’s Foundation. I was president of the board and we were having some issues and we decided we needed to take a workshop. Heather was offering one called Mindful Fundraising. We had an amazing day and Heather and I just hit it off. But after that, the Foundation dwindled and I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs and I thought, I’m at a place in my life where I’m extremely comfortable and very capable and—I’m a little complacent, I was painting and traveling and I was having a great time, but there was this little percolator bubbling inside that said, You know what? This isn’t enough. My core values are creative self-expression, love, and making a difference. I was expressing myself creatively and of course I live in love, but I wasn’t making a difference. So I called Heather and said, I need you. And she’s been my mentor. And through asking questions she goes, Well, why don’t we take another look at your book. So we did and we got a spark and I discovered that I know more than I did 20 years ago.
Heather: You do know more. Your wisdom is much more articulated. That’s the piece the first edition was missing—an articulation around a subject that’s kind of intangible. When you talk about heart consciousness, when you talk about goal-setting, goal-setting is tangible, but from the inside out it isn’t so tangible. And the only way to bring it and ground it is through wisdom. Your own wisdom and other people who have it. So the book was primed to come out because in today’s society people are ready and more available to hear it and implement it. That’s why I encouraged Janie. I felt like there’s a lot out there about leadership and goal-setting and everything else but there isn’t a lot about how to goal-set from the inside out. How do you connect to your heart? How does that make a difference? And how do you manifest that out in front of you? And the whole core-value thing—these are my core values but how do I demonstrate them to the world?
Jane: There are a lot of processes in the book. Releasing resentment. Cleaning up old agreements. Forgiveness. So Session One prepares them for looking at what they believe in as far as their values. And owning them. And then they think, OK, this is who I am and they get kinda sassy. But then life gets in the way. So they’re looking at, Gee, what agreements am I not getting done? Who am I still resenting? Who am I still making wrong for all the bad choices I made? So there are actual processes we do to take them in to see.
Is the retreat largely based on the book?
Jane: Yes. We’re going to go through all the sessions, except seven and eight. Because seven is charting all your progress. So we’ll have a telephone conference two months later to see where they are and coach them through if they have a hang up. And Session Eight is revisiting everything six months later to see, Do I still have the same core values? Am I living them? Am I not being them? Because in three days you can’t do it all. But you can set the stage.
Do people’s core values shift? Is it an age thing if they do?
Jane: I think so. It may be maturity, it may be experience. What I notice is that mine are a little different now than they were 12 years ago. Only because of what I’ve been able to do and who I’ve been able to be with and my experiences.
Are they better?
Janie: They’re richer. The biggest one for me is making a difference. Because in my early adulthood I didn’t have time. I was raising two little boys by myself and I was busy and working. I was doing my inner work whenever I could but I really didn’t have a clue about what my core values were.
Heather: Janie made a good point before you got here. The book and the retreat are for people who feel OK but who are looking to feel fabulous. People who feel good but who know that there’s more to it.
The book itself was revised through the lens that it be useful for people in leadership or useful for managers or people on a spiritual quest or people interested in diving deeper into who they are. And learning what the power of the heart is and means and why it’s so vital. And the age range is anyone. Anyone who’s aware. Like they say, the student is awake but the teacher stays awake. That’s really what the book is about.
Why did you decide to become a mentor?
Jane: Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always been concerned around the inequality of women and little girls. It’s always been an undertone for me to find ways where I could volunteer, write something, do something, to speak, to use my voice against that. And yet I’m not a social advocate. I can’t be out there carrying a banner. That’s just not who I am. So a lot of it, because I was raising two kids, I did on the inner. I’d get quiet and go to a place of holding everybody in heart consciousness. I really believe in a ripple effect. I think we make a difference even if we’re not the Dalai Lama. In our own little community or however. In this home. And it’s just evolved for me that way. And for the first six years I was here, I was really pretty quiet. I didn’t do a lot. I volunteered. I painted. I traveled. I needed to collect myself. Moving here was a big step for me. As an older woman, that was a big step. And yet I knew I had to do it.
Aside from the artistic appeal of the light here—for you as an artist—why Santa Fe?
Jane: I love the energy. It just feeds my soul.
Jane: Oh, yes. I have lots of friends who visit and something happens while they’re here. There’s something really spiritual about this space. It’s on vortices. There’s a vortex here [in Davis’ home] and one in the other room. It’s not me. It’s the space.
Heather: Well, when you’re around people who actually pay attention to their heart, and actually pay attention to the intelligence of their heart, it affects others around them, because it affects their reality. So that’s the power of living from the inside out. And Janie really emanates that. Through life experience, Janie’s really embraced a lot. So I feel like people who come to this space and have awakenings or experience that A-ha moment, that comes from the presence that Janie’s created.
People largely underestimate themselves and largely underestimate their potential. So this book is about putting up a mirror and saying, You actually do have a lot of potential and this book will show you how to embrace it. Figure out what it is.
What is a spiritual mentor?
Jane: There’s a humbleness about it. It’s not about me. Sometimes, when you’re doing spiritual counseling and mentoring you’re so present for the other person that your self goes away. Maybe it comes back when they walk out the door, but you’re present for them and I like to say I’m the catalyst for others to discover who they are and be their greatness. Just because I’m sitting there and holding that for them, knowing that they have that possibility. They have to do the work, I don’t. But I’m standing for it. So when I say I’m standing for my clients to discover themselves, that’s what I’m seeing. It may take them 40 years. I can’t force it. I can’t make that happen. But I can certainly stand for it. And that’s what will happen in the retreat.
Does joy come more from work or being in the moment?
Jane: To me, it’s joy in being. If you’re being your core values in your work, then you’re having joy. Because your self-expression is there, and you believe it in your heart. So joy is in the moment, but it’s in the clarity of the moment. Because if you’re saying part of who you are is—like part of what Heather is is beauty, part of what I have is love, so all the expressions of love, I’m looking for them. Because they’re part of who I am and I want to feel them. I’m looking for that love.
Heather: Joy, too, naturally services when you’re aligned with your heart. So when you’re out of alignment with your heart you experience doubt, questioning, worry, fear. All that. So joy—when it’s not, I’m feeling joyful but I actually really feel joyful—then you’re really in your true nature. That’s the whole journey of the book: Going from what you think you think you are to who you really are.
What happens once someone has settled on their core values?
Jane: Once they’ve discovered their core values, they’re speaking them, they’re looking to own them, they’re asking themselves, Who can I be with those values and how is that different from doing? Because we’re starting from being, and then doing, and then having. It’s a whole shift in how you show up. We even have an Items To Be list. Instead of an Items To Do list. And it’s not that we won’t take action. We certainly will. But we’re going to be real clear on those actions.
Why the heart?
Heather: The beauty of being in the heart and living from that place is that focus naturally occurs, natural clarity occurs, the natural ability to have boundaries occurs. If an imbalance occurs, you’ve fallen out of your alignment. So people associate being in the heart as love, kindness, generosity, and it is all of those things inside. But how it shows up in your life out here is totally different. What Janie brings to the table is, she is really there. She is really in that heart space and there is no falsity about it. Janie is one of those people who has the authentic piece going on and really reflects that you don’t have to be a monk or a nun. She’s still living life and being very present and that makes a huge difference.
Jane: When you’re living your heart consciousness there’s an intention inside of that. When you show up with authenticity you’re real. Your listening shifts, you have eye contact, you’re present. People listen to you because you’re there and you’re obviously there because you choose to be there.
In terms of people trying to get into their heart, how do you counsel them to do that when they’re coming up against outside forces counter to that?
Jane: That’s what the book is about. It gives them tools. It’s a book of tools.
Heather: The people who say, Well, I have all this going on and how is that gonna help me aren’t the people who are truly willing to grow. Growth requires commitment, energy, stamina, follow through. And these are things that the human race isn’t very good at. But we’re trying to get there. We’re really wanting to do that. People have to be willing to grow. My whole universe is about stamina, energy, follow through, and commitment. That’s why I wanted to write Heart and Business. People have to be willing to grow. When they’re not willing to grow they’ll blame. So it’s really a question of, What is this reflecting back to me and what can I learn from it? And if you’re willing to go there, then you are willing to grow.
And so Jane’s sort of a role model for all this?
Heather: Janie really reflects where a lot of women are—really engaged in life. She may say whatever happens happens. But at the same time this has taken a lot. This book and the retreat have asked a lot of her. But she’s shown up for everything. And there’s a lot to be admired about someone who follows through on projects, follows through on commitments, and says, You know what? I do have something that matters to the world. And regardless of how old I am or what I’m doing with my life, I’m making it happen. Janie is a real inspiration for a lot of people who just sit back and say, Well I’m just gonna hang out now because I can. Janie’s really committed to this and that’s why I’m committed to Janie.
How will someone’s life change if they read the book?
Jane: Their life won’t change if they read it. They have to do it. They have to get in and go through each session and go through the process and then out of that, their life will change. Because they’re committed to it.
Isn’t it a constant thing, though?
Jane: Yes. It’s a life.
You can change but you might stop or you might get stuck.
Jane: It’s like Heather said before. They’ll get when they’re off—if they’re really centered. And they’ll fix it. And get back on course. But that’s life. We’re always going like this [this way and that], we’re never going like that [in a straight line]. But they have the tools now. And they can choose.
Isn’t that the misperception though—that everything’s on a straight line? That you can get this and think that everything’s on a straight line? Do you have to remind people that life gets in the way and you have to readjust?
Heather: What I’d really like to mention about the heart is, people think, If I work on it, it’s going to be a straight line and I did the work and it’s awesome. Ultimately, though, the heart is a muscle. So the more you work it, the stronger it becomes. The more you actually challenge your generosity, your kindness, your acceptance of yourself, the stronger your heart gets. But we need those challenges to enhance our love. To enhance our kindness. And that makes our hearts stronger. Less penetrable by things we can’t control.