Ethan Nichtern welcomes author, Kerri Kelly, onto The Road Home to chat about wellness after tragedy and her new book, American Detox.
Kerri Kelly is the founder of CTZNWELL, a movement that is democratizing well-being for all. Kerri is a descendant of generations of firemen and first responders and has dedicated her life to kicking down doors and fighting for justice. She’s been teaching yoga for over 20 years and is known for making waves in the wellness industry. She challenges norms, disrupts systems, and mobilizes people to act. You can preorder her forthcoming book, American Detox: The Myth of Wellness and How We Can Truly Heal.
Kerri’s Journey to Waking Up
Kerri describes what brought her to yoga and mindfulness practice. She talks about her suburban upbringing and how it made her invested in achievement and the American dream. Then, her father was killed in 9/11 as a firefighter. This became her wake-up call. She reflects on the visceral moment of the towers coming down and all of the lives lost. The experience shook up her meaning of life, truth, and identity. It created a force in her life that propelled her into yoga and mindfulness. Kerri and Ethan discuss how tragedy changes us in ways that we can not turn back from.
“That moment sort of became an aperture that unlocked an entirety of questions about who I was and where I came from and what mattered. That put me on this path of seeking meaning, this path of seeking truth.” – Kerri Kelly
For more reflections on 9/11 head over to Ep. 23 of Sufi Heart with Omid Safi: Lessons for the Heart: Remembering the Events of 9/11
Bliss During Detriment (13:05)
Once we start to heal from a tragedy and find our way to wellness practices like yoga and mindfulness, more detriment will inevitably arise in the world. Ethan and Kerri discuss the inner conflict that can happen when we feel like we are in the bliss of healing meanwhile there are people starving, homeless, or ill. How can we have the privilege of being in such a wonderful state while others are suffering? Kerri describes her political inquiry into wellness:
“Is doing yoga and mediation what people need? Or do people need a living wage or do people need a home or do people need healthcare?” – Kerri Kelly
To hear Jack Kornfield’s inquiry into greeting tragedy with a peaceful heart check out Ep. 106 of Heart Wisdom: Responding to Fear, Tragedy & Injustice
Acknowledgment in Spiritual Practice (37:55)
Amidst genocide, racism, and other horrors, how can we practice acknowledgment during our spiritual practice? Kerri and Ethan talk about how it is easy to fall into individualism or materialism when we first get into yoga or meditation. It is so exciting to feel good and look at our inner selves but we have to stay aware to avoid narcissism. Part of spiritual practice should involve acknowledging the suffering of the world. A good place to start is right in a yoga class; you can do your part by analyzing whether or not it is an inclusive space. Kerri suggests using this internal questioning: do the conditions exist within this space for everyone to walk through this door? Practitioners and teachers, too, must look at privilege and how they relate to the pains of the world and the myths of wellness.
“When folks start to realize that they’re actually not well, that our well being is really limited by the structures and the conditions that we are a part of and that often we are participating, then I think people are going to realize that they have skin in the game.” – Kerri Kelly