Interview with Chantal Monte – Bali, ‘Remembering’, and Kundalini
Happy New Year! Thanks to all of you that participated in the giveaway last month, I’ve contacted the winners and also posted them in a final comment on that post. We have empowered the enlightened feminine!
Along those lines, I’m so happy to start 2012 by sharing an interview with friend and colleague Chantal Monte. Chantal is an energy healer and intuitive consultant whom I first met through our mutual association with Cyndi Dale. Chantal emanates an exquisite, refined, other-worldly energy both in person and in her work (which I have personally experienced and love.) Although trained in multiple modalities, her primary training occurred in Bali. In the following interview I spoke with her about her experiences in Bali, healing as ‘remembering’, her kundalini experiences, and her current work offering kundalini activations and workshops. Enjoy, and please feel free to post questions or comments for Chantal, myself, or both in the comments!
I would love to start with hearing about your relationship with, and spiritual training, in Bali. I know this is such a big part of who you are and what you do. When did you first go and why?
I went by myself in 1998, and I had absolutely no idea what to expect spiritually, emotionally, or physically. I knew nothing much about what I was going to arrive into, other than that my grandmother was from Jakarta, Indonesia – she was born and raised there. I grew up in a very Eastern-based household in San Francisco, and from my grandmother I absorbed a lot of the beliefs and lifestyle from her roots in Jakarta.
What is the belief system of Bali? How did this influence you growing up?
Bali is a mixture of Animist, similar to the native shamanic tradition, and Hinduism. Bali Animism is very focused on the power of nature and the elements, and their form of Hinduism is really a celebration of life, expressed in ceremonies and rituals, and incorporating Hindu deities like Brahman, Shiva and Vishnu. My grandmother taught me a lot about her beliefs related to the light and the dark, healing, the power of plants, and natural medicines, as well as feng shui.
Why did you decide to go to Bali? Was it part of wanting to connect to your roots?
I really wanted to connect to a different rhythm of life, one that I hadn’t found elsewhere. I had traveled to Europe, and around the States, but I knew that I wanted to experience a more Eastern-based philosophy. I had grown up with it, it was part of me, but I hadn’t fully explored it yet. I wanted to feel that rhythm, be immersed in the flow of life, that is offered there.
Afterwards, I called it my death journey, because I was completely going into the unknown, and I didn’t know who I was going to be when I got back. I was ready to transform, to die to my old self, and come into a new self.
When I got there, I arrived in a family compound, and the women there looked like my great-grandmother, and so I knew that was a good sign. I immersed myself into the culture, rather than visiting as a tourist. That was a huge advantage, because I wasn’t on the outside looking in. It allowed me to learn so much so quickly.
I met one of my teachers there on that first trip, and I got to explore Bali on a different level through that. Bali is very in between the worlds. It’s part of the earth, and yet also energetically in between here and somewhere else. So I got to explore with my teacher all sorts of different dynamics of realities.
So you mean in a Mists of Avalon kind of way, where the place itself is a doorway to other dimensions?
Yes. The people are, the way they live is, and the energy of the island itself.
How did you find your teacher?
It came about in a couple of different ways. First, I asked for a Balian, which is a traditional Balinese healer. But the Balinese don’t like to discuss who is a Balian, it is really kind of taboo. The Balians have so much power, and work in both the dark and the light, so they do not like to draw attention to themselves, and hence the Balinese don’t like to discuss them, especially to a non-Balinese. So asking directly didn’t work out so well.
But then one day I was in an herbal store, and I was looking to heal something, and a man came up to me and said, “well, you need this, this and this.” He did this just by looking at me, I hadn’t even said hi. And he was right on, in terms of what I was looking to do. From there we started talking, and gradually it evolved into a different kind of relationship, with more intense teachings. We would meditate together, and travel in awareness.
Please talk more about this traveling, and what you learned?
I’ve traveled like this since I was a small child, because I was trying to escape my reality. Whether it was my imagination doing this or if I was really traveling in awareness, it didn’t matter. My inner worlds were much more profound than my every day life. And so I preferred to go out, and discover that my imagination had no bounds. I preferred to travel than to deal with what was right there in my every day world.
Over the years, especially as an adult living in Santa Fe, I had a lot of altered experiences, and moving back and forth between worlds was very common for me. It was something I always needed to tune into, to survive in a sense – part of my being, of who I am.
But then, studying with my Balinese teacher was pretty incredible, because we could see the same things at the same time, which I had never done before with someone. I remember once later on, when I was back in the States and we were on the phone, and he was trying to show me something, and I couldn’t see it, couldn’t get there. And he said, “ok, wait a minute, I’m going to come and get you.” And I could feel myself being pulled out of my body and pulled into this place! It was mind-blowing – I had never felt that kind of power before.
Amazing. How did your time with this teacher unfold?
It was very intense, over a couple of years, both in-person and over the phone, and in dreamtime too. He has passed over now. It was like a ‘remembering’ from another time – like he was showing me things and saying ‘Remember this? Remember that?’ And it was a lot of play, a lot of wonderment and experimenting. The wonderment that happens when you work with energy – what can it do, what are the boundaries of it, what’s possible, how does it move, things like that.
Talk about this ‘remembering’, because I have heard you use this word before. What does it mean to you?
I see it two different ways. I see remembering as accessing things that are already there, but just covered. And I also see it as literally re-membering – putting something back together. Putting it back together in a new way.
Healing has always been very personal for me, part of my spiritual journey. Working with others was a natural evolution from my own self-healing work. And healing before always felt like “there’s something wrong, we need to fix it.” I find a lot of healing is done that way, and it’s great, it can help the personality, and the ego, and assist us in every day life. But I’m finding now that we can actually move around the cause or issue, or through it, more easily, by accessing what’s already there. Accessing information that’s already there, or the truth that’s already there, or the healing that’s already there, into more of a wholeness, and bring it forward.
I think we all have this potential, this vast potential, that’s just waiting for us to tap into it. Waiting for our arrival. Remembering is about tapping into this and bringing it forward, uncovering it and reminding ourselves who we are.
Beautiful. So how was Bali, and studying with this teacher, the tipping point for you, in your own remembering?
It wasn’t only my teacher, it was really a lot about the Balinese people, their way of life, the integration with nature, and the natural joy that shone from everyone.…Part of my healing was learning to live in my body, because I didn’t really like it, I felt very limited by my body. But in Bali I saw people very gracefully living in their bodies, and still cycling amongst all these other realities. Everything was in harmony, body and spirit. And so my disjointedness came together, into oneness.
So even though you were having all these amazing experiences traveling through awareness, it was actually a grounding experience for you living there. Your body wasn’t a liability anymore.
Yes. I was around people that could feel their feelings, and be in their physical bodies, and still have the most amazing spiritual experiences. Everything worked. The body for me became more than a vehicle, it’s really a temple – how you treat it, how you pray in it, how you bless it. We experience everything life has to offer in and through our body.
How do you think this has informed your work, and particularly the kundalini work you are doing now?
Well I should first say that I think there’s some controversy around kundalini empowerment work. Some people feel that you should either awaken it on your own through practices, or go to a guru for an initiation, a transmission called shaktipat, downloaded into your system. Traditionally, this transmission is a very big download, and you lose yourself (the ego or identity of self), and over time the guru helps you learn to live with this new awakened energy and process it. So based on that model, there is controversy over whether healers should really be giving out or awakening kundalini energy to heal people, and to help them transform their lives.
Part of what led me to this work was a spontaneous kundalini awakening I had about 8 years ago, several years after first going to Bali. I wasn’t trying to activate the kundalini, but I just woke up one day overloaded, and it was very scary….I woke up and I had many traditional adverse effects of a kundalini overload – I couldn’t see, I couldn’t walk, I couldn‘t process my thoughts. I couldn’t filter anything. There was so much energy going through me that I felt like I was short-circuiting. I got very scared, and even with my healing background I didn’t know what to do. So I called my teacher at the time and asked him to help make it stop, and he did.
After that I began to research what had happened to me, and kundalini, and how these adverse affects arise. I learned how to access kundalini energy in a subtle way, and eventually when my path crossed with Cyndi’s, I began to learn her approach also, and we began to work together. Her technique really offers a very graceful, feminine energy, which is what I call the opening, accessing or remembering. It’s really a heart-based kundalini energy that I use in my client sessions. It’s a very safe and manageable kundalini that slowly unfolds and opens your life.
I want to hear more about your current work, but first, when you look back now at what happened 8 years ago, what do you think caused it?
Kundalini is a spiritual energy, and sometimes the spirit is ready, but the body is not. The body just can’t handle the influx of energy yet.
It’s not a large enough circuit-board yet.
Yes, your vibration is not high enough, or the body strong enough, to manage the energy. So it starts ping-ponging around the body, trying to find it’s way around, pushing, pulling. And you might have chakras that are blocking it, issues sitting in the chakras blocking it, or locks on the chakras that haven’t been unlocked yet, so it starts backing itself up. It short-circuits the system.
What is the work you are doing now, and how does it avoid these problems?
Well, the kundalini course Cyndi and I developed for DailyOM, currently scheduled for February 2012, will be a set of 5 lessons that begins with gentle, safe ways you can activate this energy yourself, because we all have this potential. It’s latent in everybody. These methods are about the breath, working through illusion, sexual energy, and other approaches for moving this energy in and through you. In the DailyOM program the lessons are more like offerings, as everyone is so individual. The format provides outlines for you to play with, and discover your own way. We want people to feel like this energy can be fun, light-hearted – it doesn’t have to be supercharged, or scary.
Cyndi and I are also offering a 4-week Sunday teleseminar starting January 15th, in which we are offering 4 different empowerments. You don’t have to be on the phone live to receive them. We are focusing on four different chakras, with a different empowerment each week associated with them. We’ll talk about what the chakra represents, and how the kundalini works with it, and then move into a guided meditation where Cyndi and I will transmit the kundalini energy into each participant. It’s a gentle way of accessing the kundalini, to help you move forward in your life, live your dreams, and sometimes to open up spiritual gifts that you have.
So in each chakra, it’s clearing and strengthening that part of your circuit-board to allow the kundalini to flow in the associated part of your life.
Exactly. And my kundalini activation process with clients works in a similar way. Level 1 starts in the heart, it’s an opening and clearing of the heart. The through-line that clients have used to describe it is that it’s very peaceful, and euphoric – it feels like they can breath into their heartspace, and it expands out from there. They feel they can relax and be fully supported by the universe.
Level 2 is more about merging the divine with the human self. That feels very empowering – I describe it like being on your path and your path becomes narrow or focused, less distracted. You are more on purpose. It’s my favorite.
Level 3 is the fire. It’s about transformation. I bring it up and through each chakra, and at each chakra it opens and clears and burns out the issues, and brings them out to the surface, so you can transform them. Once you transform the issue, you’re done with it. Sometimes the transition can be a little bit difficult, because of the issues that come out, but afterwards life is more expanded offering a sense of freedom.
So when you look back now at your life the last 8 years, do you feel like the kundalini that was triggered back then has come back in a slower, more manageable pace for you personally?
Yes, and it continues. The process is less physical now, although there is a physical component. It’s more of an unfolding day by day, building gracefully upon itself. It’s more feminine in a way, and gentle, it’s not abrupt. Actually, every time I do an activation for someone, I can feel mine activating with theirs. Which I think is a really great way for healers to know that the work is circular – when it comes through you, and into your client, and then back to you. You know what they are feeling, and that the transmission is pure and clean, and also that it’s not draining you personally.
So I feel like it’s very manageable – I can feel it as I work with clients, and yet at the same time I can see the effects in my own life.
And you’re ready now.
Yes, I’m more ready now. But I’m also grateful for my own spontaneous kundalini awakening and the way it happened, because it’s shaped the way I work with people. I might not be as responsible or aware of the intensity kundalini can have on others had it not happened to me. And I know the kundalini activations I offer to clients are safe and manageable. So, very gracefully, it’s come full circle.
And I’m glad it has! Thank you Chantal, for sharing your experience and beautiful energy.
Please feel free to post comments and/or questions for Chantal, myself, or both in the comments. You know I always love to hear from everyone, and I will make sure Chantal sees them as well. Namaste-