This interview originally appeared in elephant journal on September 12, 2011.
Author: Jennifer Cusano
“Sometimes you come online and there is this opportunity to be a web rager, just like a road rager.” ~Jessica Durivage
Social media. It’s how we communicate these days. Gone are the days where you had to have a real meeting, face to face, in the same room. Actual phone conversations are extinct, and with sites like Facebook, the meaning of the word “friend” is dead. As Aristotle once said, “A friend to all, is a friend to none.” You can even date online.
Thinking about just how often we rely on the internet for our social interactions is depressing, and thinking about all of the many variables, and things that could and do go wrong is scary. Can you imagine what new kinds of technology our children will be faced with? The possibilities are limitless, and because of that I fear for my kids’ well being. Imagine the evolution of the Cyber Bully.
Enter the self proclaimed Laverne and Shirley of mindful media. Armed with a totally unique principle for communication, based on the Yamas in Yogic tradition, Jessica Durivage, and Diane Ferraro of the internet radio show Where Is My Guru intend to take their thought provoking ideas to the masses.
“It’s going to be an open core conversation with participants about what happens when you get on social media and the phenomenon that takes over if you’re operating behind a screen where there’s no accountability, and what it means for us to show up as online ambassadors in the community”~ Diane Ferraro
When I first heard about #WIMG, I admit that I was a bit skeptical. I have a hard time with people forcing their ideals and beliefs down my throat. Within the Yoga community I have come across time and time again persons of “authority” making Yoga this unattainable, impersonal practice with little or no room for error. It took me five minutes to realize just how wrong I was in terms of Where is My Guru.
These women laugh, and joke! They are ok with exploiting their own faults and don’t come across as these cold perfectionists. That first forty five minutes went by at lightning speed, and at the end I was hooked. There is something so comforting when you come across totally relatable, really down to earth and accepting people.
Spoken word has such an incredible quality to it. Elephant journal has provided such an implausible platform for writers, myself included. Its articles are so diverse, and the community of both writers and readers is such an accepting, all encompassing one.
Where as Where Is My Guru is now providing a pulpit for those same people to literally speak their minds. You can not edit when you speak in real time. There is no back space button. It is what it is. Hearing the emotion, not just the words is an unbelievable gift. There is something so inconceivably genuine about that.
The two sites are like the mother and father of mindful media and something that is both refreshing and inspiring. Our society needs this as a whole so badly. Correct me if I am wrong, but these two sites are so unique in their motives and execution. It’s not something I’ve ever seen done before.
You can imagine just how over the moon I was when I was asked to intern with #WIMG. Being able to contribute to the Yoga community in the ways I know best how to communicate has changed my life. I am driven, and I have purpose. I am proud to say that I am a part of this social change. Getting to show my children how I want them to live their lives, by practicing what I preach gives me confidence, but most of all I am so happy.
While the show has been on air for quite some time now, the dynamic duo only met in person two weeks ago. Before that they had seen each other strictly via Skype, and hosted the show on opposite ends of the country. Pretty amazing, I know. Who better to turn the tables on the co-hosts than Bob Weisenberg and Waylon Lewis? With insightful questions about the show’s origin, and it’s vision for the future, all of us can appreciate the message these women are broadcasting. How you present yourself online matters. Parts of the interview are listed below. For the full audio interview, click here.
Bob Weisenberg: How did you get the inspiration to start Where Is My Guru? How did you get started in all this?
Jessica Durivage: I’ve always been a seeker, and I’ve always kind of had to reluctantly come back to the idea that everything that I need is back inside, and I’ve always been really drawn out into the world to do a lot of work and a lot of things. I find myself getting wrapped up with what the world has to offer, and then like a little kid dragging my blanket behind me, I’m drawn back to what for me is my Yoga mat and realizing that everything that I always ever need is right there. So it kind of became a question: “Where is my Guru?”—a seeker’s search for truth around the world and then right back at home.
That’s how it was born. It started as a travel blog, and then about a year ago I was going to see Kay Van Hoesen—she’s the founder and creator of Here Women Talk. I was actually going to pitch her the idea of possibly bringing on one of my clients to be a guest on a radio show. She was like, “Well, you’re pretty interesting. You’re an improv comedian. You’re a Yogi, a non-profiteer. You do social media. How about you try out a show?” I said, “Well, I have a great name for it!”
Diane was listening to the show every single week. She was so amazing, and we had met through my brother but had only talked on the phone a couple of times. I was getting ready to go out of town and I said, ” Diane, why don’t you co-host the show with me?” Oh, and if you think Diane is effervescent and energetic on the radio just wait until you meet her in person! I can just imagine when she said “Oh my God, I was over the moon when Jess asked me to co-host the show” while I was traveling and then when I came back.
You know our tag line lately has been “Stronger Together” and that’s kind of what it was. Working together is an amazing opportunity when you have the opportunity to collaborate with someone on the level that we were. Since January, we’ve been doing the show together—and that’s how it all started!
BW: Where do you see yourselves in two years, in five years? Where do you see it all going eventually?
Diane Ferraro: As you know, Jess and I are really, really excited to go to SXSW (South By SouthWest), which is a huge festival, in 2012. We’re still waiting to find out if our panel submission is going to be accepted and if we are going to be invited, bringing mindful media to the masses, which is another thing that Jess and I talk a lot about. What that really means is using the power of online social media to bring people together because in a sense Jess and I have built our entire relationship on that, and it really works.
BW: Is this part of a trend that we’ll see, where you’ll be going on the road a lot and showing up at different conferences? Is that part of the plan?
DF: From your lips to God’s ears, that is exactly the plan—we want to take this show on the road, baby! We want to take the idea of mindful media, and I say ‘mindful media’ not just as a convenient roll-off-the-tongue phrase, because I trip over my tongue all the time. Online social media is a free resource for most of us. It’s so darn powerful if you use it not just as a speaking tool, but as a listening tool.
So those Facebook updates, those Twitter updates—if you use them as a listening tool, and a communication tool—not just a self promotion tool where you’re speaking and then ducking out—you’re actually using them to build relationships. Coming from a fundraising background, I know that relationships are incredibly important. They’re absolutely essential to going to the next level. You can build a relationship through online media—I mean it actually happens. I’m actually sitting here across the table from Jess and we’re talking to you. We have this incredibly dynamic companionship and camaraderie because of our online relationship and social media.
JD: I don’t know if anyone has noticed that on Facebook they’ve been doing this thing on the right hand side of the page—when you’re posting a status update it, it shows you exactly what you posted in 2009 and 2010 on that very day. It’s really showing that “Gosh, if I was miserable in 2009, and 2010, and I’m miserable in 2011, it’s a sign to wake up.” You can’t get away from your own patterns anymore, even online.
BW: “What can I do differently?” You ask that when you see that on the right hand side of Facebook.
Jess: I work on having a strong relationship with my partner, and my family. That’s really challenging. Sometimes you come online and there is this opportunity to be a web rager, just like a road rager. You’re a web rager on comments or blogs because you don’t have anywhere to take out your frustrations. You’re kind of in this traffic of all these people moving, like five lane traffic in L.A. My Yoga teacher always says, “You think you’re enlightened and then you get out of Yoga class and someone cuts you off, and you flip them off? Well, think again.”
So it’s that same sort of mentality when you’re navigating these intersections online and we don’t always do the right thing. Diane and I, we’re communicating about that. We’re working on how to discuss that and monitor our own actions to give other people platforms to talk about theirs. You can’t even get away from your own hypocrisy or your ignorance or your arrogance for your love, and your ability to connect and expand.
BW: Tell me more about this “going on the road” thing because this sounds like a really major expansion of what you’re doing.
Diane: We’ve developed a model based on the Yamas, which are principles in Yoga that help us relate to other people, to other things outside ourselves. There are five Yamas– non-violence, truth, non-stealing, continence, and non-coveting, and these apply that to everyday life and the way we interact with people. Because Jess and I are committed to trying our best to do that, as people who believe in Yogic philosophy, we aim to follow those things and it’s that which will bring us to a level of healthy communication.
I see a danger in social media—I’m cautious about the disconnect that is starting to perpetuate and develop. People add their thoughts on online social media and then duck out. It’s like a punch and then a retreat. It gets a little passive aggressive. We don’t know what social media is going to turn into in ten years, fifteen years, or twenty years from now, or the effect it’s going to have on children growing up with that kind of communication technique. Jess and I think that this SXSW proposal we’ve put together based on healthy communication, based on the Yamas, is going to be a tool that we can tap into.
We can bring that into organizations or share it with other individuals who want to start adopting those principles. It’s like a checklist. “Have I been non-harmful in my communication today?” It’s dissecting it down to then disseminate to broader points. We have a plan and we’d love to be able to share the idea of bringing healthy online communication to the forefront. As I said, who knows what’s going to happen in ten years. If children are being raised on online social media, but they are not being taught how to communicate in a healthy way, then we don’t know what’s going to happen with human dynamics. I see some warning signs online, like people not being nice in comment sections, people making derogatory remarks on Facebook. It’s important to be mindful of that because it’s part of our evolution as a species that depends on communication.
BW: Where else will you go beside this effort in SXSW? Where else do you see yourself showing up?
JD: We really loved and enjoyed doing all the yoga conferences and festivals this year. It was amazing to meet all of the Yoga teachers and to be able to connect with a larger mindful community. I don’t think that Where Is My Guru is just directed to go into the Yoga community, though. We want to be able to expand.
Bob: Tell us what else you’re doing and how you fit Where is My Guru into that.
Jess: I work a full time job for an amazing body care company in Denver, CO. If I hadn’t moved to Denver, I wouldn’t have connected with you Bob, and Waylon, and made these amazing partnerships with elephant journal and such a wonderful community up here in Boulder, CO. Working a full time job and then finding time to do this every single week is
definitely a challenge. You find ways to do things with your time.
I’m driven by passion. I’ve always been blessed to be able to do something that I am very, very passionate about. I feel really lucky and also a little bit spoiled. I’ve given up a lot of attachments to some physical things, monetary things, to the detriment of myself sometimes, and even my partnership at times. I keep moving forward with passion and listen to my heart.
Diane and I have a vision and a goal for Where Is My Guru. Hopefully Where Is My Guru will generate abundance for us in the coming months and year. We will have a brand new website, and we have been asked to do some social media for different companies and individuals. We are up and coming. The ultimate goal for Where Is My Guru would be to be picked up by NPR, to host the show weekly on that level. The last six months have been like a training ground. We’ve also been able to see how easy it is to manifest these opportunities just by looking at where things connect and intersect. We live our lives like anything is possible. It’s not always easy, but it’s where we’re at.
DF: When stars align, great things will happen. It feels completely right, and completely perfect. We are one hundred percent ourselves from the jokes that we make to our own feet that we put in our own mouths to the tripping backwards and forging ahead. That is success. It’s a lot of work but it’s so much fun and it’s never been so much fun to work so hard.
BW: What am I not smart enough to ask? In other words, what’s the most revealing question that I could ask you but I’m not smart enough to ask you?
Waylon Lewis: (adding) What is the one thing that hasn’t come up in the conversation thus far that is either a challenge or is inspiring? What’s maybe the elephant in the room as it were?
JD: I had a great conversation with my mom the other day and her husband, my step-dad. We were sitting outside and they were sharing with us that they had a visioning session for their company. They brought in a mentor to help them see where the company would be in five years. They had all of the members of the company sitting around a table. Nobody was really interacting. Everybody was just thinking and writing things down. At the end of that discussion, everyone had a different vision. Every single one of those five people had a different idea about where the company should be going.
What we need are strong tools to communicate about when we don’t see eye to eye, or when we don’t have the same vision. When one person is in one hundred percent and the other person has to go out. How do we navigate those things? Where is My Guru is something I have been cultivating, like this egg, for years and years. Then I opened it up for someone else to come in and share their perspective and then to understand innately that that’s going to help me grow, but to watch myself go through all of the ego things that will happen like, “Well, gosh, I don’t want to do it like that. Geez, that doesn’t fit with my vision,” and to process that.
Diane has been a great, amazing sounding board for that. I will sometimes react in a certain way and then the next day come back and say, “You know, I thought about it overnight and that’s not really what I want to do anymore.” She’s always like, “That’s fine.” I hope that I can offer that back but I also see myself getting very attached to how I think things should be or go. That happens in all of our relationships. So I think that would be the one thing that we both really are open to exploring. Continuing to allow that to be a conversation piece instead of that turning into something that turns into passive aggressiveness or resentment.
DF: When I go to Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, and I was there for the Being Yoga Conference last week, I have a ritual. They have a basket of stones in their gift shop, and in that basket are rocks with words engraved on them. I close my eyes and I put my hand on the rock that I am apparently destined to choose and whatever word is imprinted on that rock, my understanding of this little ritual is that is the message that is supposed to be coming to me.
So recently I was there and I picked up the rock and it said “Faith.” Because I’m such a controlling person, I need to have faith, not necessarily just in Jess. I don’t need to control everything. I don’t need to have my hands on the marionette strings in every way, shape or form. I can do my best, but whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I feel that with the power of intention—right speech, right action—when you speak and act that way, you must have faith that whatever unfolds before you is absolutely supposed to happen.
WL: The potential of your show to be inspiring to your many listeners is when you are that frank and that open about things that we tend to regard as obstacles. I know that Bob and I, in terms of elephant journal, are both very strong-willed and have a lot of inspiration and talent for moving forward. Bringing the two of us together in some sort of union, to push elephant forward, is real practice. Even though we aren’t quite partners in the same way, Bob is senior in terms of experience. So in many ways I regard him as a mentor, I often call him the Emperor—I’m more like Darth Vader….
DF: (breathing heavy into the microphone making Darth Vader sounds)
BW: (confused) Are we hearing some kind of interference?
WL: Are you making Darth Vader sounds?
WL: (regaining train of thought). In another way, I’m sort of this arrogant and naive young gun and he’s more like Butch Cassidy to my Sundance Kid. So there’s a really funny dynamic. The key for elephant to move forward with that intention, so that we’re more than just noise, and can be a benefit—which I assume is your fundamental mission as well— is open and clear communication between the two of us whether we agree or not.
It actually becomes really dynamic the more you can acknowledge all the things that we tend to push aside, which then become major problems later on. Diane, in terms of your comment, faith is a tricky one. I come from a Buddhist tradition. Buddha himself said, “Don’t have faith in anything that is said unless you can experience it.” So I wouldn’t necessarily push aside your controlling nature. I would try to make friends with that, and I would drop that particular rock.
BW: Jess, you had an initial concept when you first started out. How has that concept changed? Are things a lot different now than when you first thought about all this?
JD: I would say that it keeps getting closer to what I imagined. I don’t think it’s changed. It keeps getting more and more refined to what the innate potential is. What’s so beautiful about that is that I know that the innate potential just keeps growing and getting brighter and shinier. Not shiny like shiny objects, but something that lives within myself and within Diane.
Hopefully when we’re connecting with individuals, whether they’re listeners or guests, they’re finding that bright potential that lives within them. As I talked about earlier, the whole Where Is My Guru concept started with me sulking back to myself each and every time. That is the concept of the show and it really hasn’t changed. It just keeps getting better than I ever thought.
BW: Tell our listeners exactly what to expect at SXSW. We see a lot of publicity about it but what exactly does it involve in going forward? If you get chosen, what happens?
DF: We’re going to take this concept that we’ve developed, this model of communication based on the Yamas, and we’re going to take it to a panel discussion at SXSW. It’s going to be an open core conversation with participants about what happens when you get on social media and the phenomenon that takes over if you’re operating behind a screen where there’s no accountability, and what it means for us to show up as online ambassadors in the community.
I think it’s really important to take some responsibility and accountability for healthy communication online, which is one of the new ways of communicating. It’s all around us now and we are going to try our darndest to bring mindfulness to this tremendous festival that helped to launch Twitter, FourSquare, and a lot of other social media sources out there.
BW: When is that coming up?
DF: March 2012 and we’ll know by October or December at the very latest whether or not we’ve been accepted.
BW: They give you a thumbs up or down. What’s that based on? Is it purely on votes or is it based on some other kind of panel that decides whether or not you’re in?
DF: It’s about thirty percent public votes. Which really means a lot. That’s why I’m so thankful that you guys both contributed to supporting us. It’s really important to us. Then there’s an advisory board that votes. Public voting is now closed though if you go to our Facebook page we posted those links and you can read about our panel. You can also visit www.whereismyguru.comand scroll down for the post about SXSW. The festival receives about 3200 applicants and we’ll see if we get into the 300 that are chosen.
And, after all is said and done, here’s a bonus video for when words are just not enough:
The show airs every Friday at 11 A.M. EST via Here Women Talk. Some of the amazing guests they’ve had on the show are Tias Little, Rod Stryker, Suzanne Morrison author of Yoga Bitch, Elena Brower, Tommy Rosen, Beryl Bender Birch, Kia Miller, and Academy Award winning filmmaker Gerry Wurzburg–to name a few. Diane and Jess are so compatiable and the show flows so smoothly. If you haven’t already tuned in, you are missing something pretty spectacular. Check out www.whereismuguru.com for the deets.*All the photos of Jess and Diane are courtesy of the official Guru paparazzi, Carl Kerridge Photography.*
Jennifer Cusano is a wife,mother of three,and beginner Yogi. Still learning how to live happily, because right now she is a train-wreck. Much like the Lotus Flower,she is struggling to rise through some extremely muddy waters, into something pure, and beautiful, inside and out. She reads neurotically,disappears from friends and family frequently (not literally),writes, and is wholeheartedly trying to meditate,and practice her asanas, and stick to some structure. A free spirit, she is never happy caged. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon and LinkedIn. She loves making new friends, so hit her up! Also she is more than a little uncomfortable writing about herself in the third person…
I loved reading this article, getting to know Jess & Diane a little better, and hearing more of what goes on inside their heads. Web rage & Darth Vader! Thank you, Jennifer, for some mighty fine reporting!