066 Surrender, Interview with Cassandra Bodzak
Cassandra Bodak shares her “dark night of the soul,” which led her to surrender. And so began her spiritual journey, experimenting with different meditation techniques and yoga styles to arrive at her place of joy. You can step into Cassandra’s place of joy with a free seven day trial at aprecity.com/join.
Read the full interview transcript
Cassandra: Hi my name is Cassandra Bodzak, I'm the founder of the online mind-body-soul support community Aprecity.com, a meditation and wellness teacher, and the author of Eat with Intention. And you're listening to Just Stay Curious.
Gillian: OK Dreamers it's time to get curious. Today we're hearing the story of another inspiring woman. I'm excited to introduce Cassandra Bodzak. Cassandra is the founder of the online support community Aprecity.com, she is the host of Eat with Intention TV, or you may know her as a happy, healthy living guru from ABC's The Taste. Today's guest is an author, speaker, and certified Kundalini Yoga and meditation teacher. She also has a book called Eat with Intention, which is all about quieting your mind, loving your body, and nourishing your soul from the inside out. And you can get that now. So Cassandra thank you so much for joining us today. And I've told everyone about what it is that you are doing professionally with your life but I'm sure everyone listening is so curious about the personal aspects as much as you can, in one to two minutes. If you could fill in some of the gaps like how did you become this woman.
Cassandra: I thought you were going for a different angle there. Your personal life. I mean I'm open to that conversation but it's a different one for sure. The gaps. How did I get there. Oh this is kind of a longer conversation that I'm always challenges to spark note.
But the entire- most of the the entirety of the journey is in the beginning of my book Eat with Intention, where I really kind of unravel how I got to where I am today.
And the spark notes version of that journey is that my first meeting with food came when I was in college. I had disordered eating and issues with my body all growing up as I think many many women do.
And I was a dancer and an actress when I was younger. And obviously that just fueled the issues even more. And in college I kind of had my first, what I like to lovingly look back on as a divine intervention, where I just started getting these debilitating stomach pains and I could no longer dance. I could barely walk. It was almost- I describe them to women as if you imagine your worse period pains ever times like a hundred. And that's very much what it felt like. So that was my big wake up call. And my body begging me to listen to it and to stop this terrible relationship I had with it. And through that healing journey where I went to a bunch of doctors, and nobody knew what was going on, they did all the blood tests. Nobody could figure out why I was still in all this pain. I really came to talk to my body. I got really desperate and I started- you know, at the time I was not really into meditation. I mean I was into- I knew a little bit about like balancing your chakras and I knew a little bit about movement work, and qigong and stuff but I wasn't really- I was nowhere close to where I am today on my spiritual path. And something in me, in my younger self as you know was desperate and I was crying and I asked myself hey what do you want what's going on. I need some help I need some guidance. I don't know how to help you.
And it was the first time I think in my life where I looked at my body as a friend and that I wanted to help instead of an enemy that I wanted to change.
And I was led to looking at things about food allergies and after some research and some intuitive pondering I decided to completely overhaul my diet. I went vegan and gluten free, and within a matter of days my entire energy shifted and my whole body shifted. All of the pain was gone. I had more energy than I had than I could have ever recalled. And I had this new relationship with my body.
Where I actually was curious and wanted to help it and wanted to nourish it. And then the second kind of a big turning point in my life came to me like four years later when I had my dark night of the soul. And I found out that my little brother had an auto immune disease that was very serious, and I was very scared for his life. So during a time when I was also in my personal life had just broken up with the man I was at for like two and a half years and was planning and hoping that I would marry. And just kind of came to the conclusion that I needed to release that relationship and then a few days later find out about my brother. I was a hot mess... and I'm doing a terrible job at spark noting it.
So it was really that that second really surrendering moment of really needing guidance that led me to my spiritual path after having that that relationship with my body and food and that's when I really started meditating and it was through that process of really really deep deep reflection- Reading A Course in Miracles, meditating five six seven times a day, as many as I needed to. Trying all different kinds of meditation techniques that eventually I got on the path to where I am today and it was really through following what lit me up and through what brought me joy that ended up in me doing what I do for a living now. It's kind of wild and crazy and fun.
Gillian: You know I love how everyone's stories take all these twists and turns that no one ever saw coming. So we are going to talk a little bit more about these times in your life. First I want to get into a little bit more detail about your dark night of the soul. So that anyone listening you know can get from you the lessons that you learned without having to necessarily go through it themselves. And.
Hopefully we're all take the advice.
So and then of course we will transition to your spiritual growth and how that happened.
So if you can at this time go back as much as you can in your mind to the time in your life that was the dark night of your soul. And if you can tell us what were you thinking. How are you feeling. What was really going on at that time.
Cassandra: I think the best way to describe it is the deepest, most honest, complete surrender of thinking that I had any idea what I was doing.
And I think you know in that moment honestly I've been very blessed in my life to- I have not experienced a lot of tragedy close to me. I've had deaths, but older relatives.
Not that they were easy but I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that my brother who is three years younger than me and a seemingly perfectly healthy guy, you know. The kind of guy that could eat you know like a whole gallon of like mint chocolate chip ice cream and like taunt me with this six pack abs when we were growing up in high school. That he could have kind of an expiration date. And the fact that the disease Kenny has, it eats your intestines and your liver. So it's a very painful way to go.
I just couldn't- I couldn't compute. Honestly that was the best way to really put it. In that instant I actually called upon my ex-boyfriend who I'd just broken up with.
And I think a lot of women can probably relate to that if you're in your mid to late 20s, being in a long term relationship and having to kind of make a terrible call if you don't feel like your partner is really going to take the next step anytime soon. So it was one of those break ups where like I feel like I did it with a gun to my head not because I actually wanted it.
But in that moment he kind of told me I was on my own and I was like oh my god this is like the worst moment of my life so far. How can the one person I really thought would really you know- of course I had girlfriends that I also called that were much more helpful. But that really sunk in. I really felt alone.
I had a lot of you know I think anybody who's ever been in a really dark place, it doesn't matter how many amazing friends you have. I have incredible, incredible girlfriends. But sometimes you're just in a place you just have to deal with by yourself, and that you know them being on the phone, and them showing up, and you know taking you to yoga, and taking you to lunch, and stuff like that certainly helps. It's so healing along the path. But in that night, it was really just me by myself in my apartment crying buckets of tears and really surrendering to God, to the universe. Up until that point I was raised Catholic. I believe in God. I believe in you know a power greater than us, that you know the universe and all this stuff. But I really hadn't ever really truly deeply called on it. And at that moment I was talking to God like he was my best friend and just been like hey if there's anything out there, if there's anything inside of me, if there's anything that can help me right now I'm open ears because I don't actually know how I'm supposed to wake up tomorrow and go about my day, and laugh with my friends, and drink my green juice, and go to yoga class, and just pretend like my little brother is not dying, and just pretend that there's nothing I can do to help him.
And I don't know how I'm supposed to function or how I'm supposed to go on if he does go.
And it was you know I think the best way to describe it is complete and utter utter surrender that night.
I didn't think I knew.
It wasn't like you have a devastating break up and you can be so so sad. And I've been so so sad and heartbroken in my life. But in the darkest of those depths, I think there's always a part of you, at least you know I'll speak for myself, there's always a part of me that was like it's going to be OK you know, hang out with your girlfriends, take a bath, eat ice cream, do the meditation, whatever you gotta do. Like you know the things to do, you'll heal yourself. Another day will come. This was the first time in my life where that voice was not there. I did not know what to do.
And it was a real real deep surrender and a moment where I fully gave over to something more powerful than me, or to a wisdom inside or above me that knew something that I couldn't at that moment.
And so that's what I really think the dark night of the soul is in so many ways. I look back and that night it was a tremendous blessing. My life has forever changed because of it. And my brother is stable. And still with us today, so that's incredible. But his journey is certainly something that is you know constantly a source of tremendous growth for me. And so I think the best way to describe that is really just deep deep deep surrender and really being in a place where you give yourself over to that deep inner wisdom or to God or to the universe or whatever you feel comfort with at that moment.
Gillian: Do you think that there is a way to make that transition from suffering to surrender any easier?
I mean with my book, with Eat with Intention, I really sought to give people the tools to do that without having to go through that. And that's so much a part of all of my work really. Marianne Williamson has a great quote I think in A Return to Love where she talks about her journey and how, every time she'd get on her knees, something would go bad, she'd get on her knees, she would talk to God, she would surrender. All of a sudden she would listen to the guidance, things will get going again like it wouldn't be that bad. Like you know she would transform whatever happened, and this happened like three time and she was like "Oh man, what if I just stayed on my knees. When I'm on my knees that's when I'm listening." And so yeah I think there's definitely a way for you to do that with out having to go through that pain and that is to truly take on that aspect of surrender in your day to day life. And. That does take some muscles. You know it's kind of like one of those things where.
The you know, if someone like kind of like pushes you off a cliff you kind of just have to deal with it and you deal with it on the way down, and then you figure out how to fly or land or save yourself or whatever you gotta do. Jumping off the cliff takes a little bit more courage on your part. A lot more courage on your part. My opinion. Right.
So really giving into that surrender is a muscle that you have to build. It's to practice, it's something, you know, even now when things... it's so easy to be in a space of surrender when things are really bad. But when things are good we need it just as much. And when we truly surrender every day- I say a prayer every day in the morning after a meditation. What would you have me do. Where would you have me go.
You know what would you have me say and to who. What miracles would you have me perform today. I am open to receiving your guidance and that's a little prayer from A Course in Miracles, but it's just every day being in that space of I don't know what's best for me.
You know my intellect doesn't know what's best for me but my intuition does, and I decide to follow that master.
I decide to follow that inner guidance, that inner wisdom, the God voice, the universal voice, the trust, and not burst my little human intellect that is scheming and trying to do all sorts of strategic things.
And so yes I believe it. You can absolutely do it without that pain. And I know moving forward more and more and more of us will be doing it without the pain. But it is going to take that same dedication and that same surrender that come with tremendous pain. So it's just about really being willing to step up up and to give that over in your life and being willing to listen.
And you know it's one thing when you feel like there's a gun to your head and you have like no other way to turn to listen. You listen and you listen right back.
Gillian: Yes definitely.
Cassandra: So it's a way of you know being in that space in a peaceful place, being able to be excited, and in the joy, and there is definitely you know to do that and to be like I'm excited to hear what's going on and I'm going to commit myself to listening even though the guns not to my head. Even though life is good right now, even though life is maybe not terribly painful right now.
Gillian: Sense going through that moment at that absolute surrender after that, did you have any sort of cosmic download, or anything like that that really made you realize what your life's purpose was?
Cassandra: I've had so many cosmic download. It would be hard to get... There's going to be a whole book of the cosmic downloads coming out next. I mean there have been so many cosmic downloads. Honestly I think the first cosmic download that came after that, that night the next morning when I woke up was meditate. I just meditate meditate meditate meditate. That's all what I was. I was like great. I don't even... like how do I do that? And then I got on YouTube, and what did I do? All day I meditated, and that's all I did.
I tried all different kinds of forms of meditation via the Internet. And I just really surrendered to it like I was in a place at that point where I was upset I was not trying to leave my apartment. I was just trying to get myself into an OK place so I could go out back in civilization and not like the hysterical crying mess all the time. And so that was the first big download, was meditate and I think that the first download that a lot of us get because that's the process to opening up that listening. To really being able to receive the much bigger cosmic downloads that you get down the line, is having that meditation practice and really committing to it.
I often hear people say well I'm meditating every day for like... or I meditate most of the time you know for a few minutes here and there and I'm not really feeling anything and nothing is really happening or I'm not really feeling that connection.
And I often say, well you know what you need to meditate the way you medicate in our society, I don't really medicate. But in theory the way someone medicates in our society, right, if you have like a little dull headache and you want to make it feel better then you take one advil. If you have like an incredible migraine or maybe like your leg got chopped off, you're probably not going to take just one advil. And while I'm not an advocate for medicating, I am an advocate for meditating. So I think when you think of your pain if you're just feeling like OK, and you just like want to try meditating, then sure, meditate for five minutes a day. It will be better than nothing for sure. If you're really committed to getting cosmic downloads, if you're really committed to getting some direction and guidance, to feeling at one with the universe, to feeling that connection, to being in the flow, and the trust you got to really show up to it. And you know like I said I meditated my butt in those first few months and I meditated probably more than I did anything else in the day and I'm not saying that that's possible for everybody if you're not going through that kind of turmoil. But if you're really ready. You know I would say meditate at least 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes in the afternoon, get into a regular practice, commit to it. This is the time where you're opening yourself up for those cosmic downloads. Now I get downloads all the time. I get downloads in the bath, I get downloads when I'm walking, and I get downloads by the ocean.
But the most recent download I will say is really just an affirmation of the fact that our only purpose here is to give and receive unconditional love. Both to ourselves and to others and we need to be able to give that unconditional love to ourselves because knowing that unconditional love for ourselves and within ourselves allows us to give even more unconditional love to others, and really look through the lens of other people's actions is that everybody is either giving you love or asking to receive love. And if someone is you know perhaps acting in a way that you don't find favorable. A lot of times it's really just a cry for love and you can also put that back on yourself when you're being grumpy or you know acting towards yourself in a way that might not be super favorable, that's your body or your soul asking for more love. And I think that was you know that was one of my one of my favorite downloads but I receive a lot of downloads and I think anybody can once you really cleaer the space to start listening.
Gillian: All. It's time for our daily insight. The Q&A Part of the show. Sound good.
Gillian: Why do you think self-love is important.
Cassandra: Because if you don't love yourself it makes it very hard to be a force of love in the world.
Gillian: What was the one thing holding you back from accepting self-love.
Cassandra: Often thinking I was worthy of it.
Gillian: Who is one person who has changed your life for the better.
Cassandra: My brother.
Gillian: What is the best advice that you have ever received.
Cassandra: So many, so much, that's a tough one. You have a choice to believe that everything in your life is happening for what you want to create.
I kind of butchered that. But essentially, you know if you have a vision, and you have a dream, and you have a goal, and you have something in your heart that you know you're ready to put forth, or that you know that you want for your life- whatever that is whether it's you know your book being out, whether it's having a loving family, whether it's all things. You have that dream, and that you have that vision you have a choice every day to decide that everything that is happening is just helping you towards that.
And I remember when I first heard that it was really early on in my journey and I was really feeling disheartened by a lot of things. And when they heard that I wrote it down in a post-it I put it on my desk and it's something that I constantly remind myself up today that you know when something gets rejected or when something comes it feels like it's a detour.
It's like you know hindering me on my path or whatnot. I remember that it's my choice to you know to really trust that universe has a plan far greater than mine and that every little detour, or every little no, every little kind of rejection is actually you know on my perfect path towards what I'm truly here to create.
Gillian: What is a self-care habit that you practice regularly.
Cassandra: I take regular Epsom salt baths with lavender and jasmine, and I light candles and I play mantras while I'm in the bath. And it's one of my favorite self-care rituals.
Gillian: What is your favorite quote.
Cassandra: Life isn't about finding yourself it's about creating yourself.
Gillian: Can you share with us a resource or an app that we can use in our own software practice.
Cassandra: Well I definitely definitely recommend my book Eat with Intention. There is tons of meditations and recipes that are organized by mantra, as well as lots of step by step- there's a whole chapter on self-care. Other than that, I really recommend YouTube, honestly. I'm not really into apps to be honest. But I think YouTube is a great resource if you want something, if you just want some healing music it's a great thing. You can put into YouTube healing music. If you want something you know- realign my chakras or remove negative thinking. Really search and have fun.
And I think YouTube is a tremendous resource and you can play around and find different people on there that speak to you.
And it can really just help you and your exploration and you know and just be curious about it.
Gillian: What book are you reading right now that's not your own.
Cassandra: I'm not reading my own book.
I read that many many times in editing. I'm reading Rise, Sister Rise right now by Rebecca Campbell who was a dear friend and mentor of mine. It's an amazing amazing book I highly recommend it.
Gillian: I have one last question for you today.
What is the one thing that you are most passionate about.
Cassandra: I'm most passionate about spreading love.
And I think that what I'm currently most passionate about doing that with is really with Aprecity.
I'm really passionate about creating a space where women can support each other and hold each other through their journey and giving them the resources and the tools to do it. So that is something that I'm constantly working at with my work, with my personal life, and of course with my different endeavors. So yeah I think as women we really need to come together and we can hold a space for each other's transformation.
Gillian: Alright all you dreamers out there, you can find links to these resources and everything else we've been chatting about in today's episode by going to juststaycurious.com/CassandraBodzak. Cassandra thank you for taking time to talk with us today. Can you give us a last parting message, share the best way we can find you, and then we'll say goodbye.
Cassandra: Yes thank you so much for having me. And my last parting message is just remember that the power is always within you. Whenever you're thinking of whether it's figuring out a new self-care practice, figuring out a new way of eating, figuring out a book to read... whatever it is you have this beautiful internal compass and you are the CEO of your body and your life and you can just tune back in to yourself and really you know just by simply holding your hands to your heart, closing your eyes, asking yourself does this feel good. Does this feel expansive. Does this light me up. You can take your power back and navigate your life for the highest and greatest good.
Gillian: Awesome. And if you want to tell people about your book or your community, if they want to find out more about that.
Cassandra: Sure. Eat with Intention is a manual to helping you make peace with your body and really get into a loving conversation with your body so that you can find out what foods it truly needs to be nourished and self-care practices that work for your body, movement that works for your body. And also dive into the deeper inner wisdom that your body can speak through your internal guidance. So as well as develop daily rituals like a meditation practice. The book has many five different mantras, and each mantra holds a meditation and a recipe within that energy vibration. And so it's I hope that it's a tremendous resource for women and for people all over in really tapping back into their inner power and having some fun with this whole journey. And Aprecity is an online mind, body, soul support community, which is where I kind of I get to hold the space for an amazing community of women to grow and connect with each other. We have twice weekly intensive coaching with me, a live Q&A, a library of meditation, and a recipe, a group for... it's everything I've always dreamed of creating. I really wanted a place where women can gather. And can feel supported and they can feel like they're getting that guidance and getting those resources at a super affordable price.
And so I will give you guys both links to both the book as well as Aprecity below.
And I'll give you guys a 7 day free trial to Aprecity. If anybody that's listening right now just wants to go in and peruse and check it out if it's right.
Gillian: Awesome, they both sound amazing. Cassandra, our listeners can find links to everything that we mentioned in today's episode by going to juststaycurious.com clicking the podcast tab and finding you in the archives or just enter Cassandra Bodzak in the search bar and the show notes will pop right up. Cassandra thank you for being so generous with your time and your story as always, Just stay curious.
Cassandra: Thank you so much.
Why do you think self-love is important?
Because if you don't love yourself it makes it very hard to be a force of love in the world.
What was the number one thing that was holding you back from accepting self love?
Thinking I was worthy of it
Who is one person who has changed your life for the better?
What is the best advice you have ever received?
You have a choice every day to decide that everything that is happening is helping you towards the destiny you want to create.
What is a self care habit that you practice regularly?
I take regular Epsom salt baths with lavender and jasmine, and I light candles and I play mantras while I'm in the bath. And it's one of my favorite self-care rituals.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw
Can you share with us a resource or an app that we can use to help our own self care practice grow?
I recommend my book, Eat with Intention. There’s a whole chapter on self care. YouTube is also something I think is helpful. It’s a tremendous resource.
What book are you reading right now? Rise Sister Rise! by Rebecca Campbell.
What is the one thing that you are most passionate about?
Spreading love. You can explore my community at aprecity.com with a free seven day trial. I'm really passionate about creating a space where women can support each other and hold each other through their journey and giving them the resources and the tools to do it. So that is something that I'm constantly working at with my work, with my personal life, and of course with my different endeavors. So yeah I think as women we really need to come together and we can hold a space for each other's transformation.
About This Guest:
Cassandra Bodak is the founder of the online mind-body-soul support community, Aprecity.com and a global meditation and wellness teacher who instructs people on how to utilize the technologies of food, meditation, and self-care to make peace with their bodies and their plates. Cassandra is the host of Eat with Intention TV or you may know her as the happy, healthy living guru from ABC’s The Taste. Cassandra is an author, speaker, and certified Kundalini yoga and meditation teacher. Her new book “Eat with Intention” is all about quieting your mind, loving your body and nourishing yourself from the inside out.