My usual sign-off with my brothers is something like, “If you go wackadoo on me, I’m getting on a plane to kick your butt.” After watching many members of our family check out from daily life through different kinds of substance addictions, nervous breakdowns or mental disorders, and even escaping into religious obsession, we feel we need to check each other’s stuff, make sure we’re still all here. You never know, in my family, you could wake up crazy (or at least numb.) My own journey to the mindful life sprang from observing those around me check out.
Of course, I know I’m not alone, those troubles plague far too many families today, celebrities being not the exception, but perhaps the model. I had the good fortune to meet Mariel Hemingway and hear her speak on this topic at an L.A women’s group called First Tuesdays last week. What was so incredibly striking about her (besides her outer beauty) was her ease, and honesty in telling her personal journey; from growing up in a famous – and “crazy” family – to her search for answers in consciousness and wellness, to finally finding her inner peace.
Mariel grew up in one of the most distinguished families in America. The Hemingways are a family of creative brilliance, but those amazing genes also came with a harrowing darkness. Mariels interest—and obsession—in wellness sprang from “coming from the craziest family ever.” Her infamous grandfather Earnest Hemingway lived on the edge, consuming astounding amounts of liquor that he considered his creative privilege, a spell that also befell her sister, and other family members as well.
In her own words, her upbringing of overindulgence and obsessions were the norm. Her mother was raised in Idaho, but her father grew up in Paris, so he sent his wife to the famed French Cordon Bleu cooking school to ensure that their family ate only the finest food. Her parents preferred to accompany that fine food with bottle upon bottle of fine wine. So the kids ate their fancy food on TV trays while they watched fantasy families because no one could communicate and no one was truly present.
Mariel joked that she spent much of her life terrified that she’d wake up one day as a lunatic. But putting her light-hearted nature aside, she spoke about coming from a family of seven suicides in five generations, including her grandfather and sister Margaux, which is no joke, it is a terrifying reality, and she has seen loved ones disappear down that path too many times.
But rather than insisting that her story is incredible, Mariel believes in sharing it because she knows we can all relate. She spoke about “the ninety-nine percent space where we are all connected,” which leaves a mere one percent inside that makes up our individuality. We’re more alike than we think. “When we tune into our common frequency, where the ninety-nine percent relate together, we learn gratitude and compassion for others,” she noted. We all have our stories, but at heart, they are similar. As Mariel said, “While you may not come from a family of seven suicides, I know you’ve got some crazy story. We spend sixteen to eighteen years with these people called our family, and then we spend our lives trying to get over that.”
Mariel went on a life journey with a voracious appetite to do it all. She visited every guru, chanted every chant, read every book. She became obsessed with every wellness trend to appear—from yoga to meditation. But, she noted, she was reaching outside herself to find the answers.
Her ‘Ah-ha’ moment or arrival at her destination to personal peace came in the moment that she realized that she is her own teacher. She is her own best guru, trainer, cook—the only one who truly knows what’s right for her. And she now dedicates her life to sharing that wisdom with others, and is on a mission to inspire others to live their fullest spiritual, healthy life.
“The light goes on for you when you’re meant to wake up. It’s a process and it’s different for everyone. Some people flip a switch and it goes on. For me I have trudged down this road for a long time. And who knows maybe I’m still not awake.” – Mariel Hemingway
Mariel’s Tips on Mindfulness and Wellness—Food, Meditation, and Sacred space:
1) Trust Yourself. There is a way that works for you: for your genetics, your heritage, your DNA. You have your own blueprint to health and wellness. Everything you know about yourself is UNBELIEVABLE—you have to trust it. Many of us believe that there is a doctor, yoga teacher, or healer who will have all the answers for us. But our inner voice or “knowingness” is extraordinary and we barely tap into it. Give yourself permission to go deep inside yourself and listen.
2) Chop wood, carry water. Sometimes we must focus on the mundane to create something gigantic. That is what mindfulness is. Do the small things carefully, slowly, with focus. Mariel says that’s the biggest lesson she learned through all of her studies and learning. Whatever you do, do it with intention. Intention is everything—it changes your mind, your body, and your attitude.
3) Connect to the ninety-nine percent. Being alive and well in the world is possible through your connection to everything else.
4) Be still. Stillness is critical. What you put out there in silence is rooted in your soul. You learn what the divine wants for you and you accept what is not in our control. When you completely surrender to the thought that you’re not in control, it is such a relief, such a lifted burden. Moments from sitting in stillness bring you great gifts. It might not come right then, but it will come back to you. The voice that comes to you during that time, or after, will provide clear insight. And you will know when the right messages come to you.
5) Trust the unknown. Being a better human being is the outcome of investing in your own health and wellness. Just be honest in this journey. Your journey is many things: what you eat, how you exercise, knowing and admitting that you need stillness and silence, and honoring your home as your sacred space.
6) Keep your sacred space sacred. If your home does not have a feeling of celebration, love, and comfort, then you must create it. Simply change the way things are. Find places in your home that feed your inner voice and create an environment that supports you.
7) Your body is a temple. When you abuse it by eating bad food or thinking terrible thoughts, you are not caring for or loving yourself. Give yourself permission to love yourself, however that looks for your blueprint.
8) Be passionately curious about yourself. By taking care of yourself, you make a huge difference in the world. Just by learning more about yourself, you help your children. They will change, and everyone around you will feel the ripples spread through your family, your friends, and your world. You become a flower that blossoms, and one that never stops blossoming.
About: MARIEL HEMINGWAY
As the granddaughter of illustrious author, Ernest Hemingway, Mariel was always destined to be well-known and publicly recognized. However, at the young age of 13, Mariel became famous in her own right when she made her silver screen debut in “Lipstick”. Four years later her work in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” earned her an Oscar nomination. She has since made 30 films and numerous television appearances in series and as a host of several environmental and humanitarian documentaries.
Now at the age of 50, Mariel is the mother of two daughters, Dree 24 and Langley 23. For over 20 years, she has been pursuing her passion for yoga and health and is now seen as a voice of holistic and balanced health and well-being. As part of that role, she has leads wellness retreats all over America, sharing her insights about movement, silence, nutrition, and home. She is the author of several books including Finding My Balance, and “Mariel Hemingway’s Healthy Living from the Inside Out.”
Mariel’s passion is her love of the outdoors…connecting with nature and becoming younger through food, breath exercise and nature. She has partnered with Robert Williams an eco adventurer in a new book and lifestyle company called The “Willingway”.
You can find Mariel on line at http://www.thewillingway.com
Have a similar running from crazy past? What has helped you transition into calmer waters?