Diane Israel: Finding Inner Healing from Body Image & Eating Issues

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Photo by Sofia Dro

The newest episode of our podcast, Mindful U, is out on iTunesSpotify, Stitcher, and Fireside now! We are excited to announce this week’s episode features Diane Isreal (MA Transpersonal Counseling Psychology ’91), adjunct professor and trustee at Naropa.

play-icon Diane Israel: Finding Inner Healing from Body Image & Eating Issues

Diane Israel’s platform is about remembering wholeness and healing the complexity of humanity. Her movie ‘Beauty Mark’ is “a raw exploration of [the] quest for perfection.” Speaking about filming the movie, Diane said, “I was like: ‘This [stuff] is what you want to work on?—Like fitting in a smaller pair of pants—when we could be leading the world and changing the world and doing such incredible service?'” Diane made it her goal to change that, and to help others find the tools—in the plain air and out in the open—to heal their lives.

Full transcript below.

Diane Isreal graduated from Naropa’s MA in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology program in 1991. She is currently a psychotherapist, an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate School of Counseling & Psychology, and she serves on Naropa’s Board of Trustees. Her experiences as a world-class runner and triathlete led her to specialize in body image. She assists clients in celebrating their true selves, practicing self-care, and healing through mind-body integration. Diane produced the award-winning independent documentary film, Beauty Mark. The film examines the race to perfection and has reached thousands of viewers through the Media Education Foundation. It is also endorsed by the National Eating Disorders Association, the Women’s Sports Foundation, and the Dove Self Esteem Fund.

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Diane Isreal and podcast host, David DeVine. 
Full transcript.
Diane Israel
“Discovering the Healing with Ingredients Within”

[MUSIC]

Hello. And welcome to Mindful U at Naropa. A podcast presented by Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

I’m your host, David Devine. And it’s a pleasure to welcome you. Joining the best of Eastern and Western educational traditions – Naropa is the birth place of the modern mindfulness movement.

[MUSIC]

DAVID:
Hello. Today I’d like to welcome a very special guest to the podcast — Diane Israel. Diane is a Naropa professor teaching in the Graduate School of Psychology and is a psychotherapist focusing on healing and well-being. She was also a professional world class runner, a triathlete, and she is also a member of the board of trustees at Naropa. So, thank you for coming and speaking with us today.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Thank you so much, David. I’m so fully grateful to be here and doing this with you.

DAVID:
Yeah. So good to have you — I’ve seen you always around. I used to work these events and just see you at the board of trustees and I never really knew who you were. And then you agreed to speak with me today and while upon researching you I just like, wow, you’re so interesting. This is going to be fun. So, it’s just a pleasure to sit down with you and talk so —

DIANE ISRAEL:
Thank you.

DAVID:
Yeah. How are you doing today?

DIANE ISRAEL:
Good. Good. I’ve been living in a place of so much gratitude and just learning to be with everything that arises and really learning how to be with the uncomfortable and the messy and the unresolvable at these really challenging times.

DAVID:
Yeah. Wow sounds pretty heavy.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah.

DAVID:
Yeah okay.

DIANE ISRAEL:
It doesn’t feel so heavy when you know I’m kind of being with what is. You know? It really feels heavy when I’m always trying to be something else that I’m not — like if I’m feeling anxiety and I’m trying not to feel anxiety — then that’s harder than just like meeting my anxiety or meeting my confusion or my fear of this culture, you know like what’s been going on.

DAVID:
Interesting. So, it’s almost like when you feel like you’re going with the flow — it’s not as hard as to push something away saying I don’t want to feel that right now.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Exactly. Exactly.

DAVID:
OK.

DIANE ISRAEL:
And a lot of what we do in class is just like when uncomfortable feelings arise just — really literally meeting them and just having the student just allow that experience to move through. You know like we talk about it move through like the weather, but it really is like that. Because feelings come and go. Just like a little kiddo, you know, who’s crying sometimes and then just having like a great playful time and very joyous and then frustrated. So, I’m into that. I’m really into the present moment. Living.

DAVID:
Yeah. It’s really important to understand that things come and go.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Things totally come and go.

DAVID:
And then while they’re here — deal with them skillfully. So, when they go you can be an intact person.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Beautiful. And on that note, this idea of letting go — I don’t — I’m not really into it because things let go when they’re ready to change, you know. So, when I tell myself like I have to let go it’s more about just allowing and then it through the process will maybe let go. But when I try to let go — I sometimes hold tighter.

DAVID:
It’s almost like an animal that sheds. It’s not like — I’m thinking of shedding and it just sheds. Its sheds when it needs to. So, it’s like the process of letting go is letting the process do its thing and then it can let go.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah.

DAVID:
I like that.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah, there’s this little thing — letting go is a surrender we often push it away or ignore ourselves or turn away from it. But, then it’s kind of like, wow, you abandoned me…again.

DAVID:
Wait, wait come back…

DIANE ISRAEL:
Come back. So, everything comes, and it comes back. You know when I started as a therapist, I remember people said, hey Diane I want to come to therapy because I want to get rid of this and I want to get rid of a bunch of stuff and I thought oh great I can help you with that. And then over the years I realize what are we getting rid of, you know. We’re just understanding the beauty and the complexity of our humanity.

DAVID:
I like that.

DIANE ISRAEL:
We’re really just deepening and relishing and aging in that.

DAVID:
We’re all just learning.

DIANE ISRAEL:
We’re just learning.

DAVID:
Here we are.

DIANE ISRAEL:
We’re just all bozos on the same bus. That’s what one of my teachers used to say. You know we’re all in this together.

DAVID:
Who used to say that?

DIANE ISRAEL:
Evan Hotkins at Boulder graduate school. You know, when we’d get really serious — we’re just all kind of silly and — and to enter the Tarot deck you’ve got to be a fool on the first card — willing to be a fool.

DAVID:
Interesting. Ok, so very fun. I’m actually kind of curious how did you find your way as part of the Board of Trustees? How did you find yourself on the board? I’m kind of curious about that journey and here you are today part of the members.

DIANE ISRAEL:
So, 28 years ago I joined the Naropa community — coming from Boulder graduate school and I graduated in the first class of the Graduate School of Counseling — Transpersonal Counseling. I’ve been involved with Naropa for so many years and I really see it as my family. I don’t have children and I’m so dedicated to it. I love it and I really feel like Naropa is a family. We — with all its challenges, with all — all of our differences, with the frustrations, with the chaos, with the love, with the confusion — somehow, we’re all here and we come together because we know we need to be here at Naropa. And one of the things that I’ve been so inspired by over the 28 years is how so many individuals come here.

But then we create such a beautiful Naropa community. What inspired me to try to be a trustee was I really see this so much as a part of my life and I felt that that would be a place if I could become a trustee to really have an impact and to really work hard to enrich this place.

DAVID:
Yeah, great.

DIANE ISRAEL:
So —

DAVID:
Well thank you for your work. And just thank you for coming here and seeing Naropa as like the family. I really do feel the same. I’ve been at Naropa now for eight years now and it does have this family vibe — like everyone just really likes working together and we all do the mingling, and everyone’s involved in what we do here.

So, it has a big vibe of a family.

DIANE ISRAEL:
And I think Rinpoche said that Naropa was a 500 year plan. And, you know we’re like kind of in its infancy and I try to remember that — like, you know, the terrible twos. You know? So, you know it’s a human — Naropa is a human experience.

DAVID:
We’re like growing our first tooth — energetically or something.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah, I mean it’s not all perfect. You know, it’s not all easy — it’s really a great metaphor for the messiness and the richness of being alive at this time. And then we all can come together, and I know for me school was really, really hard — traditional school and coming here was like coming home. I feel really at home at Naropa and, you know, we talk about this authentic self and being ourselves. But truthfully this is what this place is about.

DAVID:
Yes.

DIANE ISRAEL:
And really discovering what that is for each of us.

DAVID:
Oh, it’s so good. Thank you.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Thank you. Thanks for being here David.

DAVID:
Yeah here we are — both of us. So, I’m curious you said you studied transpersonal psychology and you became a psychotherapist in all this. Where did you study? You said the Boulder —

DIANE ISRAEL:
Boulder graduate school was the foundation of the transpersonal program — the Graduate School of Transpersonal Psychology.

DAVID:
Did it matriculate into —

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yes. We came over.

DAVID:
Deb Bowman.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yes, Deb Bowman and myself.

DAVID:
There’s a podcast about that.

DIANE ISRAEL:
And then the three of us.

DAVID:
Oh, very cool.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah, I feel very psyched about that we —

DAVID:
Wow!

DIANE ISRAEL:
We really created this program. And so, it’s like really dear, dear, dear to my heart. And Deb — Deborah Bowman without Deborah, yeah this would never have manifested.

DAVID:
Yeah, she’s been on the podcast twice. So, I kind of know a little bit about this but apparently you three brought that over here.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yes.

DAVID:
Yeah. Very cool.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah, we did.

DAVID:
It’s thriving.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah, I went door to door actually to raise money.

DAVID:
Wow.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah it was so inspiring. Because I would have lost — if Boulder graduate closed, I would have lost almost four years of graduate school.

DAVID:
Wow!

DIANE ISRAEL:
So, when we got adopted by Naropa it was such a blessing.

DAVID:
Yes.

DIANE ISRAEL:
We didn’t know where we’d get picked up. So, you know, it’s kind of like, yeah, I feel like I’ve grown up here and I feel like in a lot of ways Naropa has been a place where I feel like — it sounds so trite but it’s kind of saved my life.

DAVID:
OK.

DIANE ISRAEL:
In well-being.

DAVID:
Yeah it does that. It’s got that quality.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Craziness. Crazy wisdom.

DAVID:
Yeah craziness is fun. Let’s be honest. If you have like a contained and you kind of know it — you just like get to go be authentically crazy and have fun at the world.

So, as your work as a psychotherapist and also a counselor doing the healing and well-being work — what type of struggles do you see in the people that you are helping? What sort of issues come up? What do people come to you for?

DIANE ISRAEL:
Well, a lot of my work in the early years was around body image and eating issues. I really don’t like to use the word disorder, but you know eating disorders. And really people struggling with addiction. Trying to feel at home in their bodies. Trying to feel well, trying to self soothe, trying to self-regulate and not really having tools and often being very, very highly sensitive like myself. I’m a very, very highly sensitive processing person. So, in a very overstimulated, very difficult environment many of us turn to addiction to try to feel better. To try to regulate. To try to feel sane. And so, for many years my work was to try to support people in healing around that. And my own issues around food and anorexia was how I coped with my growing up.

DAVID:
Ok, so that was something that you struggled with?

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yes. Yes, big time. And what I’ve learned in my older years is that I came from a family like many people where feelings weren’t something that were welcomed. I think they were really scary for the family and very overwhelming. And so, if I could focus on food it was an incredible distraction to the pain of my internal pain, but also the family pain. And I remember Gabor Maté saying that actually eating disorders is a family issue. Like he — that’s the only one he named as really being like a family issue or a parental child relational issue and without blaming. Just that it’s — it happens — shit happens, you know.

But I find that addictions are very similar because we’re just — I don’t see them as a problem as much — I mean they can be a real problem for people. But I see them as trying to find well-being, trying to find life vitality, trying to deal with their humanness. And a big piece David that I’ve come to is just if those of us who have eating disorders or are dealing with addiction can find baby step ways to feel — and feel our way through and be ok with the — learn how to be okay with the enormity of feeling and being alive. The addiction really gets to rest because there’s much more self-soothing that goes on and much more capacity for healing.

DAVID:
Wow. I never really thought of it like that — where it could be like a family sort of triggering or a family issue. I’m kind of really curious about that — like how does it work? Like how is does family propel someone to discover this eating habit.

DIANE ISRAEL:
You know, I think when I work with people everybody is so beautifully unique. And I say to my students that when — in becoming a psychotherapist or a teacher or a therapist that you’re a detective. You’re a detective —

DAVID:
Energetic detectives.

DIANE ISRAEL:
And you’re just trying to like figure out the beauty of why people develop the addictions or the patterns that they do. And again, you know, like we’re not problems, we’re not wrecks, we’re not — we’re messy, but we’re not a mess, you know. But we’ve all been raised that we’re like not enough and that we’re broken, and we need to be fixed. And I love the work of Bruce Tift, the fruitional model, which is so much more based on wholeness and well-being and that you know we’re really incredible and we’re really whole in all our incompleteness and our completeness.

And so, anyway, I think I forgot your question. But —

DAVID:
Just curious about the family.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Oh, the family issue. I’ll just share personally — I feel so grateful from the family I come from and I’ve lost both my parents and miss them a lot and things were difficult at home. Like for many of us and my dad was a very controlling, smart person and he — it was a tough environment. A lot of pressure to succeed and to do well at things and be a certain way. And I think for me there was just like a lot of not feeling safe or comfortable in my skin in a very busy, very doing family.

And so, the food became — what’s — a refuge. If I could focus on the food, it was something that I could control and create an environment that felt sane for me. So, does that make sense?

DAVID:
Yeah.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Does that make sense?

DAVID:
Yeah.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah and the more I’m able to feel and the more I’m able to be kind and tender to myself and like myself and it sounds trivial but love myself and be in the present the more I have found that the focus isn’t on the food. The food is just a symptom.

DAVID:
Interesting. It’s a symptom of wanting to control something?

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah, yeah, it’s a symptom of trying to find safety in my family, in the world and in my body. You know? And actually, the other day I realized that when I’m hungry because sometimes I fall back under stress. I think we all regress. When I fall back, I realize that when I’m really hungry and when I’m dealing with food issues it brings me actually into my body and it brings me home to my body and I thought that was really interesting. I kind of came to that the other day. I’m sure others have figured that out a long time.

DAVID:
Well we all have our own unique approaches and — when it comes up for us, you know, so that moment was to be had for you in that time.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah was like, wow. You know, and then I’ve lived a long time and I just got that. So, you know, again I’ll just repeat were beautiful as we are and we’re not really problems, but in this culture, we’ve been so conditioned that, you know, there’s something wrong with us. We need to be fixed. You know that’s the whole economy. You know, we’re broken, and we need a product, or we need to lose weight or —

DAVID:
You’re not broken out there. You’re perfect as is. And just keep doing what you do, you know.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Right on. Oh, and then there’s Robert Keegan’s work about the completeness project — that we’re all like trying to become complete. So, we have to just keep doing more yoga and we have to keep —

DAVID:
It’s like striving for something because we are not that yet.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yes, and we have to keep striving for things outside ourselves — like a bigger home and the cuter relationship and the more stuff and the busier — busy. Busy is just a great way to distract — you know from just any uncomfortable feeling like I’m an expert in anxiety. And so, I’ve had a lot of time to practice.

DAVID:
Interesting. Ok, thank you for sharing. So, you sent me a movie that you made. She made a movie — it was a documentary. And it was called, Beauty Mark and it was a documentary of your earlier life when you were a world class runner, professional athlete and you were doing the triathlons and you started to notice your — you don’t want to say it this way but your disorders — your eating disorders and your — that things started coming up and so you made this really beautiful movie discussing your story. Can you just tell us a little bit about that and about your story?

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah, you know, it’s — what I started to learn was this race for perfection. You know, this race to look a certain way, to try to be the best athlete in the world, and this insatiable drive. And like — it just was so confusing because first of all for many athletes whether you’re a dancer or a gymnast or a wrestler or a runner — there’s such a fine line like we can get caught up in. Like well if I lose a few pounds, you know, then I’ll be a better athlete. So, ironically, I was dying in some ways. And I was this great athlete. But then it took at 28 it burned me out and I ended up with health issues and chronic fatigue because I didn’t take care and nurture my body.

But the movie is really about this journey — this journey of striving and wanting to so much be this great athlete. Because if I won these trophies and I was number one or two or three in the world then somehow, I’d be more lovable, and I’d be, you know, liked more and then people wouldn’t know how stupid I felt or how screwed up you know I thought I was at the root.

So, the movie’s a very raw exploration of this quest for perfection. And then this other theme, David, is like — when I made this movie over 20 years ago, I started working on it. It was this — all these parents at these camps I worked at — they wanted their boys and girls — they wanted their children to — they’re training these kids to love their bodies. You know they wanted them to not be like them who hated their bodies, but they wanted their kids to love their bodies. And that was crazy making. It’s like — they would walk by the mirror and say a look at my ass or I’m so fat and then they’d say, but I don’t want you to worry about that. And it was so incongruent that at camp with these beautiful humans that I was working with I was like, this is what you want to work on — like fitting in a smaller pair of pants. When we could be leading the world and changing the world and doing such incredible service. And they’d say things like — when I lose weight then I’ll do public speaking. And that whole kind of view just — I had never made a movie. But I just was like, oh God I’ve got to do something.

DAVID:
Yeah, that’s when you got sparked.

DIANE ISRAEL:
I got sparked. It kind of became like a mission, you know. And there’s another piece I wanted to say, David.
Also, to just talk about it — like in my early days — like being born in the 60s, you know, in 60 — we didn’t talk about anorexia. We didn’t talk about family issues. We didn’t talk about addiction like we do now.

DAVID:
Was it too taboo to talk about? Or that wasn’t allowed here?

DIANE ISRAEL:
All of that.

DAVID:
OK.

DIANE ISRAEL:
And in some ways, there wasn’t even a language. You know, which is really beautiful now — because I feel like one of the messages for “Beauty Mark” is just talk about it, you know, talk about it. Don’t hide it. And when you do talk to people who have eating issues or addiction, you know, talk about yourself. Not so much like they are the problem. You know, it’s more like how you feel when you maybe worry about them or you know what I’m saying and not just like oh it’s you. You need to be fixed.

DAVID:
Yeah. When I was watching your movie, I noticed there is this other thing on top of the eating issues and stuff like that. There was this addiction to competing — addiction to training. You know, so it seemed like you had these two things, so you weren’t necessarily getting enough nutrition in your body. But then you’re also like running yourself pretty deep. You’re like, oh I’m going to go on a little run and it’s like 10 miles or 15 miles or something like that. And to a normal person that’s — that’s a little crazy to go that deep. And do you think there is multiple components that add to the issues of eating?

DIANE ISRAEL:
Very much so. You know they can be very complex. For me, my whole life — I’ve dealt with issues around eating. My platform is not about like I’m recovered because personally I just feel like the word recovered for me ends up feeling like I’m a problem, but my platform is more about remembering — literally remembering my wholeness and healing just the complexity of my humanity. And, I am very inspired and excited and alive by exercise. And I still am very much here to move. I’m a mover. And in school I would have been totally diagnosed ADHD you know 60, 50 years ago, you know. I just — that’s my essence. That’s who I am. And I just, at this point, you know try to keep it as best I can in check. But, I — like when mom and dad died, I slipped way back and that became again a very habitual behavior to feel safe, to feel myself, to feel at home, to make sense of all the trauma and loss. And that’s what we do. That’s what we do. You know we’ll be doing really well —

DAVID:
Attach to something.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah, and then we regress and then we’re little kiddos again. And a huge part of my work is just healing our little kids. You know, like so many fragmented kind of hurt little parts of ourselves — bringing them back and welcoming them —

DAVID:
Yeah and not forgetting about them. Going over there and attending to the particulars that may be informing something that you personally don’t want to be doing, but you are doing right those habitual actions.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah and we are habits. You know, we’ve just — that’s what saved our lives. So, just being kind to them. You know, I’ve got a lot of habits. You know when I look around and I’m not the only one who has habits you know because I see everybody — when I do my little hikes, I see the same people. When — if you go to a coffee shop — it’s like hey they have that habit too. Hey, let’s join the habits.

DAVID:
I’m a creature of habit. I’ll like to integrate something into my life completely. Like for instance, I was just — talking with Kelly Watt my boss. We did a podcast with me and it was an interview and she was talking about this thing that I like to do where I take a photo of the tree outside of Naropa — this sycamore tree. And I’d been doing it for two years every single day. And it’s just part of my day now. It’s just a habit I do.

DIANE ISRAEL:
That’s beautiful.

DAVID:
But I mean there’s other habits that aren’t so good. But there are habits that are good too. But we are habitual creatures and we tend to do things like that.

DIANE ISRAEL:
This is something I was talking to with my partner, you know, in order to transcend our patterns — it first has to be ok to have our patterns. And when we bring enough self-acceptance to our patterns. We can start to like melt them, you know. But it’s only through that instead of just like, oh, stab.

DAVID:
I love that because you have to be aware of the pattern to even notice it is a pattern. Because if not then it is something that you’re not noticing. So, you have to become aware first to actually notice that there might be something to work on.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Right One thing I say to myself a lot that helps me is just it’s really hard when I’m — when we’re in in a rough place for all of us, I think. But I’ll just say like I try to reframe it — like this is helping me. Like, you know, as much as I know we all try to get away from our struggles and it’s instinctual too — at the end of the day it’s like to practice all this is like helping us.

DAVID:
Yes. Awesome, so moving forward with your therapy and your counselling and also your personal experiences — how does that show up in your sessions with clients? Trying to help them because you are coming from a place of experience — you didn’t just go to graduate school, read some books and understand this thing that people might get into — this habit. You actually had personal experience. So, does that help you inform your sessions?

DIANE ISRAEL:
Oh yeah, totally. One thing, David, I’ve been recently calling myself a conductor because I — when my mom died, she loved music. She loved, loved classical music and after she died one day, I had like a 104 or four fever and I had been doing psychotherapy for 25 years and I was pretty burnt out and I was really grieving the death of my mom — and my dad, but my mom came to me in death and she’s like you’re a conductor. And that’s really my passion with clients is to like shine a light on their beauty and their brilliance and focus on the health and not what I call the illness or the lesions or the disease or the disorder. I mean that’s a part of the complexity, but I try to mirror back, you know, the health

DAVID:
Yeah, it’s a perspective shift because there are so many things you could be focusing on in that moment and if you hyper focus on the things that are wrong, you’re going to ignite that fire a bit more.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Right.

DAVID:
And I really like how you do that because then you’re showcasing to people that there’s other things to focus on — there’s like so many different things you can focus on and we are the owners of the decision of where our focus is being pointed towards.

DIANE ISRAEL:
I love that. But one thing I really want to make sure I make clear is that I’m not one of those people that’s like, oh I’m all for the joy and all for the light because I really feel that the joy comes from the complete working of our — I love Carla McLaren’s work — the language of emotions and I’m recognizing with some of our students work this — Jenny Johnson who just invented this amazing model that, you know, all of us are dealing with like scared — you know being scared and being sad and mad as a symptom.

You know mad is actually a symptom of like scared or sad. And then joy just is like the river that flows when we least expect it. You know, I don’t know I haven’t been somebody who’s just hung out in joy a lot, but I’m realizing that the more I embrace sad and scared and mad and jealousy and the beauty of all of it — then I feel more joy. It’s like freed up, you know, as Bruce Tift says — his book, “Already Free” — freedom in just learning to experience.

DAVID:
Yeah. Wow, so much freedom. It’s kind of like a decision. And I really like the fact that you’re saying it’s not all love — there are some real things out there. There are some real things that people need to deal with and people need to go through. But, to also realize at the same time there are many ways to heal from this and it’s just a moment. Everything is a moment — whether — like even joy is a moment. But what are we — we’re learning how to extend those moments of joy. And learn how to not extend those moments of sad or scared or fear or something like that and feed into these issues that we might have developed within our lives to break our habits.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah, when you talk about that David for me, I was very ill over the summer and a gift that came out of that, which I wasn’t feeling gifts in the beginning. But what started to come was just really this idea of the present moment. And I know we talk about that a lot, but really truly because I think when we’re going through really, really hard times — if we’re experiencing like physical illness, you know, we can’t really separate our thoughts and our minds and our spirituality from all that. So, everything was just like kind of crumbling for me. And the more I could just kind of come to this present moment and I love Mary O’Malley’s book, “What’s in the Way Is the Way” because — yeah, what’s in the way is the way and her book helped me so much this summer because it was like she described kind of the present moment as just like going to a meadow — like being in a meadow. And I love nature. I’m like a nature hound. I live for nature. So that helped a lot. And then just this idea of calm and kind and gentle and tender and then what I also worked with is just recognizing that this mind and especially the critical mind is really trouble. You know what I mean? Like I started to feel like, wow, you are really a distraction from my spiritual life.

Like I’m just going to do everything I can to come back to the present moment. So that — I don’t know I’m so right brained that I like that. Some people might think oh, I love the critical mind.

DAVID:
Ok. So, what would you suggest is the solutions for people when they get caught up in these issues? Have you noticed there is a general way out and or fix or sort of tool to give people to help them deal with these sort of issues?

DIANE ISRAEL:
Well one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is how do we feel our way through our hearts to the truth of who we are? That’s a big piece of it. And, you know, that’s a tough question because I just feel as I age that it’s like the whole package — you know what I mean? It’s like the mixture of the struggle and the joy and, you know, in the movie I say I really thought that enlightenment was this place that we’d get to and there’d be all this light and like I’d arrive somewhere and then like everything would be ok. But, in this journey I realize it’s such a journey.

Same thing with a finish line, David. I always thought that like crossing the finish line first meant that you know my life was going to be so good. But what I say in this film, “Beauty Mark” is that the finish line is the gift of life. That, you know, that crossing the finish line is this gift of being alive. And I really do feel that, you know, waking up and health is just moment to moment. That’s how I feel. You know? And when we’re really not well — it’s challenging, you know. it’s really, really challenging. I mean chronic pain or dealing with mental illness — these are really tough issues. And again, all we’ve got is our relationship to them. And again, I think we need support. That’s why I love Naropa so much because this is a place to get support. I mean I was really not well this summer and I got a lot of support from the board.

DAVID:
Yeah, awesome.

DIANE ISRAEL:
You know because I just wasn’t well.

DAVID:
The board family.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah.

DAVID:
Very cool. So, what I’m hearing is — I mean there necessarily isn’t — someone comes to you for some counselling with some issues and there isn’t like this prescription — this thing that you can just give them. You almost need to hear their story and their journey before you even try to decide what to help them with — knowing their uniqueness, knowing their journey and you know people may have the same issue, but the way they got there is different. They could have got there from family — from like social cues or from just body imaging — watching on television or something like that. There’s so many different directions they’ve come to the same spot.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Beautiful.

DAVID:
You know and want to work on something. So maybe their process might be different than someone else. So, I can see why you answered it that way. It’s always unique.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah, it’s always unique. What I try to do is bring the story and our history into the present because we’re probably playing it out in our significant relationships or with our kids. And so, I really honor story to be useful a couple of ways.

One is in the present and two, like I was saying earlier, to just like really celebrate and honor our little kids inside us — that really need to tell their stories. I’ll give you an example for my own healing, David. When I was little, I was hiking with a bunch of people and one of our friends fell off a mountain and got really, really hurt for life. We were too young to be out there alone. So, sometimes when I’m out in the woods and I’m hiking I start to have a lot of anxiety and fear about being up on a rock or hiking alone on a trail. And so, the other day before the time change, I got really scared. I started to feel really terrified out in the woods and then I just went back to that incident when my friend Mark fell off this mountain and we were all in just like fourth grade without parents around. And I just like held myself and I was like oh little Di, you’re just re-living that experience when you were so scared, but now you’re an adult, you know, and I just kind of held myself and then I just let myself cry and feel the terror. I was really scared for a few minutes and then it just like — my little kid was so psyched that like I did that, you know. And then it was like whoa now I’m an adult again on the trail I’m ok. I don’t know if that makes sense.

DAVID:
It’s like a current.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yeah. I love water analogy.

DAVID:
It’s like mental current coming in.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Flowing in and out.

DAVID:
You gonna surf that or are you just get a duck dive. You know what are you going to do?

DIANE ISRAEL:
I love what — says you know the waves don’t change but our relationship to them does

DAVID:
I like that.

DIANE ISRAEL:
The waves are still coming in. To be honest, I know my clients know I get slammed — they get slammed and we’re all in this soup together.

DAVID:
We’re all in it together. Here we are. I like that. This is such an enjoyable conversation and just there’s so many different things to explore and you just seem to have like this really big light in you and I can feel the passion within the work that you do. And I just want you to tell us how people can find you. Do you have a website? You can tell them how to find your movie which is called, “Beauty Mark.” So, if there’s like a certain streaming site for that or how to find you on social media — just how do you get to know more about you?

Oh, that is so sweet. Well, “Beauty Mark” movie dot com is one of the sites and here I am so horrible at knowing my e-mail stuff. But yeah if you Google — you know “Beauty Mark” movie you’ll find it. And I think it’s beautymarkmovie.com We have a really beautiful Web site with radio shows and articles I’ve collected, and we’ve collected for over 10 years to help people out. Also disrael@Naropa.edu. If people want to reach out. And yeah just oh, and the movie is on Amazon. Amazon Stream is that what it is? We’re streaming it on Amazon — is that right?

DAVID:
Nice. Ok. I think you’re saying it right.

DIANE ISRAEL:
You can tell I’m really good at technology. But that’s — yeah —

DAVID:
How often do you stream movies?

DIANE ISRAEL:
Not much. So, yeah, we’re working on getting it streamed right now. Hopefully people will enjoy it and it will speak to people.

DAVID:
And you might have a book coming out at some point, right? You’ve got something in the works.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Yep, I’m working on a couple books. One has to do with hearing some really clear messages from my mom and dad after they died. And just kind of writing their poetry and their beautiful wisdom that I received by going to their ashes. And the other one, is this kind of — I don’t really want to give away the title.

DAVID:
No, you don’t have to.

DIANE ISRAEL:
But this exploration becoming kind of a — I was always doing athlete and I know many people can relate to the doing world and doing, doing, doing and I’m becoming hopefully more being as I learn and have to heal from illnesses. And so those are some of the things I’m working on.

DAVID:
Well, maybe when you get those books going — we can have another podcast.

DIANE ISRAEL:
That’d be awesome.

DAVID:
Yeah.

DIANE ISRAEL:
Hey David, I want to say something — I totally see and feel your passion.

DAVID:
What?

DIANE ISRAEL:
Like how you go around and take pictures is just so inspiring and something I just try to help or love to help clients with and people with — students — is just to find your passion. And, you know, when I was growing up, I was kind of conditioned to focus on what I wasn’t good at and like learn the things that I wasn’t good at and then I just felt more and more inadequate. And what I like to tell students and clients is — you know focus on what you’re passionate about. What’s your genius?

DAVID:
What’s up? What do you want to do?

DIANE ISRAEL:
What you want to do and then you know that gives you this vehicle to serve.

DAVID:
Yeah. Discovering the inner dialogue that will ask a moment of what is your highest joy in this moment at this time?

DIANE ISRAEL:
Beautiful.

DAVID:
Just to be like — how can I be awesome? What do I want to do? You know, and you know Eve Ensler she made the Vagina Monologues and did all kinds of body shows and on Broadway and stuff and — you know in my film — she’s in my film and she says, you know, we’re all wrecks, we’re all messes and so what. That doesn’t mean we can’t change the world. That doesn’t mean we can’t serve. Actually, those of us who live these full experiences, you know, we meet our clients where they are, and we get it.

DAVID:
Yeah. Wow. Well, thank you so much for speaking with me today. I had such a good time. And I’m sure we’ll speak again when your book comes out and I’m really eager to kind of explore what you have to offer.

DIANE ISRAEL:
David, thank you. You are so fun.

DAVID:
Thanks.

DIANE ISRAEL:
And alive.

DAVID:
I’m alive. Thank you for organizing this. And thank you for doing the incredible service that you’re doing here at Naropa.

DAVID:
You’re so welcome

So, thank you again to Diana Israel for being on the podcast. She is a Naropa professor teaching in the Graduate School of Psychology. She was also a professional world class runner, triathlete and she serves on the board of trustees. Thank you.

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On behalf of the Naropa community thank you for listening to Mindful U. The official podcast of Naropa University. Check us out at www.naropa.edu or follow us on social media for more updates.

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