This week’s Blog Babysitter is my friend Sara Avant Stover, author of the new book The Book of She.
Sara and I connected serendipitously when she asked me to write the forward to her first book, The Way of the Happy Woman. I saw that she lived in Boulder and Mike and I just so happened to be driving into Boulder as I got the email.
Sara and I met and I felt her depth immediately. She’s a woman who’s deeply committed to truth and the exploration of the full spectrum of being a woman, not just the fun, sparkly stuff.
This interview explores the heroine’s journey, the basis of The Book of She, how Sara came to this material through her own dark soul of the night, and what the feminine has to offer us as a guide for living our own heroine’s journey.
Enjoy diving deep with Sara Avant Stover.
Bio: Sara Avant Stover, a yoga and meditation instructor, bestselling author, and founder of the Way of the Happy Woman®, has uplifted tens of thousands of women worldwide through her retreats and online programs. She has been featured in Yoga Journal, the Huffington Post, Newsweek, and Natural Health and on ABC, NBC, and CBS. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her fiancé Keith and their dog Amia. Visit her website: http://www.thewayofthehappywoman.com
Q: Well, of course I have to start with this question! Who is SHE?
Sara: SHE is the Sacred Feminine–the Feminine Face of God–in all Her colors, flavors, and textures. Some know her as Mary, others as Kuan Yin, Tara, Shakti, Athena, Aphrodite, or the Divine Mother.
At the same time, SHE always lives within each of us through the intersection of our humanity and our divinity. We have a felt sense of her through our intuition, the inner voice of our feminine soul.
Q: Why did you write The Book of SHE?
Sara: Several years ago, when I was writing my first book, The Way of the Happy Woman, despite being steeped in spiritual practice and psychological healing for over twenty years, I reached some really harrowing and confusing points on my path. Through grappling with those, I realized that I needed a roadmap to help me make sense of what was happening. Otherwise, the only option I could see was to label them as neuroses. As I started to investigate these dark points in my life’s journey and place them in a more empowering light, more and more women began coming to me with similar stories.
They were saying things like: “I feel like I’m broken,” “I’m a failure,” “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” “Why can’t I just be normal again?”
Because of my personal experience, I could say to them, “No! You’re doing so great! Because things are falling apart, it’s a sign that you’re getting stronger and more empowered. This is a rite of passage worthy of great regard and celebration.”
Through mentoring other women, I started to see that many of them were going through similar rites of passage, while erroneously viewing them as shortcomings. I vowed to share my story to help those women—and all women—to view our struggles as stepping-stones to our unconditional happiness, wholeness, and empowerment.
Q: Your first book was called The Way of the Happy Woman, and you titled the introduction to this book “The Dark Side of The Way of the Happy Woman.” What do you mean by the “dark side”? And why is it an important part of the spiritual journey?
Sara: We live in a dualistic world. Every day we experience good and bad. Pain and pleasure. Gain and loss. Light and dark. To deny one half of these polarities, while craving and clinging to its opposite, is delusional. This only causes strife. The “supermarket spirituality” that has become very popular in recent years exacerbates this delusion by advocating that we only seek the light. In doing so, we deny our darkness by transcending it. Then, our “dark side,” which holds all of our childhood wounding, starts to turn against us. It sneaks out in disruptive ways—uncontrollable anger, narcissism, self-sabotage, addictions. We see this very often in monasteries and yoga schools, where practitioners earnestly try to perfect their humanity by escaping it and merging with the light. This is not spirituality. It’s spiritual bypassing.
The remedy is not in escaping our darkness; it’s in merging with it. A tremendous amount of creative energy is locked inside our “Dark Side.” It holds our vulnerability, wonder, vitality, and child-like enthusiasm. If we don’t tend to it and heal the wounds within it, instead of liberating us into a life of joy, our darkness will haunt and torment us.
My personal experience has shown me that the magic that pours forth from the integration between your own dark and light sides is always only euphoric, beatific, and an expression of divine perfection itself.
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, and your beautiful new book, Sara!
Dive into your own Heroine’s Journey and order your copy of The Book of SHE here.
When you register your copy through the above link before October 30, you’ll receive an invitation to join a complimentary online women’s yoga & meditation class, as well as a live Q & A, with Sara. Both are to support and empower you to live and embody your own Heroine’s Journey.
P.S. To celebrate, and give you a richer taste of what’s inside The Book of SHE, Sara also just launched a beautiful new podcast on iTunes!
Throughout October and November, she will be publishing there a series of interviews, called “SHE Stories,” with feminine leaders whom I admire (Nisha Moodley, Alisa Vitti, Bari Tessler Linden, and many more).
Since we heal through telling (and hearing) stories, these SHE Stories will give you the courage to value your own life’s journey– especially the dark, shameful stretches that we prefer to hide.