Drinking Tea with Demons

Vladamir Horowitz: A force of nature!

“I believe every time we make a fundamental shift of consciousness that opens a circle into a spiral, we face a kind of death. Sensing this impending death, we move through a period of fear, facing our demons. Like gargoyles, these demons are the protectors of the gates of transition.”    The Way of Joy (excerpt)

As a kid, I grew up with some heavy-hitters from the arts world hanging out in my family’s living room. The classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz (Volodya to friends) played the piano in the living room of our summer house when he was too nervous to go home during a thunderstorm; Frank Loesser, humorist extraordinaire and composer/lyricist of shows like Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying, used to try to convince my younger brothers and me to chop up my composer father’s piano with a hatchet; and Martha Graham listened to my young dreams to become an actress and looked directly into my eyes and told me I must always follow my dreams.

I think that one of the most important things I learned from being around these “big names” in my daily life was that being a star does not mean being protected from our inner demons. I learned very quickly that uncertainty, those nagging inner nay-sayers and crazy-makers, are a companions in our life’s journeys with our successes as much as our failures.

One of my treasured friends, the brilliant playwright, theater performer, and teacher, Jean-Claude van Itallie, once told a story in an improv class that I absolutely loved. It is about Milarepa, the great Tibetan hermit, singer, teacher who, it’s been said, lived a thousand years ago.

Vicki Dello Joio, founder of The Way of Joy: A Spiritual Fitness Program, is a teacher, speaker and performing artist. Integrating over 40 years of Chi Kung practice with other martial arts as well as her work in Yoga, Feldenkreis, physical fitness and theater, Vicki has developed a dynamic set of tools to increase awareness, transform obstacles into opportunities and enhance creative potential. Book: The Way of Joy, CD: Short Meditations for a Busy Life.