Kenosis Logo

  Navigation Graphic

A Conversation with Carla Woody

Author of Standing Stark and Calling Our Spirits Home

You're sometimes called a conscious living teacher. What is that? How do you teach it?

I was actually given that name by a talk show host a few years ago. It seems to have stuck. To me, conscious living means really being aware of the effects of our thoughts and actions. One of the ways I teach it is to ask people to be aware of what ways they are bringing their past into the present, and then creating their future through that mindset. Beyond that, what are the ramifications not only for them as individuals, but also for those they touch in their lives and the environment.

What's the significance of the title of your new book Standing Stark: The Willingness to Engage? How did you come up with it?

It's a metaphor for the person who is deeply committed to a spiritual path. I spend a lot of time walking in the forest and my attention has always been drawn to ponderosa pines that have been struck by lightning. They stand taller than the rest of the trees and, at least to me, seem to offer themselves up for what will clear away extraneous underbrush. It takes a lot of courage to be able to withstand the heat, so to speak. Being a storyteller, I think in metaphor a lot and how something I observe or experience may relate to a point I want to illustrate.

If you can distill the theme of your writing and work with people, what is it?

I'd say it's about coming from the heart and being authentic. So often, we're taught not do to that. Most people in the Western culture have bought into a societal norm related to intense competition. It involves a lot of tension keeping a "mask" in place or being fearful. That seems like a lot of wasted energy to me.

What inspires you to write?

There's a magical quality to the process for me, the same when I'm doing art work or working with people in a retreat setting. It takes me into a reality where insights pour through. My own learning deepens and it affects how I live on a day-to-day basis. The experience is rich.

In both your books you mention your long relationship with Peruvian mystic Don Américo Yábar. Talk about that.

I met Don Américo about ten years ago, at a time in my life when I felt very disconnected. I was successful in the traditional Western sense, but felt like something was drastically missing. I went to a retreat held in the southern Utah desert. He did some healing work with me there that opened my heart and began a journey that's continued to this day. I feel a connection to life and integration inside that has changed my life dramatically over the years. I was ready for that.

You lead trips to Peru and call them "spiritual travel." How are those trips different than other travel people might take?

First, it's not about tourism. We go to places where most tourists don't go and few Peruvians even know about. Through Don Américo, we spend time with healers and mystics in the Andes and take part in sacred ceremonies. We develop relationships with the people through village festivities, too. We also go to "power spots" in various locations.

Why would someone want to go other than curiosity?

The intent is about an individual's spiritual opening. I've found that it's often easier for people to create something "more" in their lives by taking them out of their usual environment. They seem to give themselves permission to explore parts of themselves they're not so in touch with on a daily basis. By exposing them to traditions such as those in the Andes, that are more pure and connected with each other and nature, people from our culture can see what else is possible. Without exception, I've witnessed people shift into much more peaceful places during our time together. My role is to help ground those experiences so that they take the new consciousness home to their everyday lives.

Do you have to go to Peru or a retreat for all this to happen?

No. You don't. People do need to "travel" in a different sense though. I mean outside their usual mindset and habits. It involves intent to create something wider. Otherwise, they just get more of what they always had. A spiritual practice is a way, such as meditation of some sort. It involves clearing what doesn't serve the person well and amplifying what does.

You use Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP, in your work. What is that?

NLP is a very powerful change modality. Our brain codes experiences we have. The original coding usually takes place early in life. The coding becomes our perceptions, or beliefs we have about ourselves, the world and what is possible. This template also becomes the filter through which we experience life. So, it affects our behaviors, relationships, the quality of decisions we make, our health, virtually everything. NLP has processes that assist the person in identifying their own unconscious belief system. It also creates a stronger foundation of their strengths and enables them to break through barriers that may hold them back.

How does NLP relate to the spiritual focus of your writing and work?

It's all integrated. I can't compartmentalize the mind, body or spirit. It's all part of the same system. So, I consider this to be a holistic approach for personal growth.

Could you differentiate between mysticism and shamanism?

In the Quechua Indian culture in the Andes, there is a distinction between what they would call a paco and a mystic. A paco is someone who uses plants and other items such as stones, which possess healing properties, in their rituals. While a mystic may use those things as tools or items of focus, there is also a connection that exists to all reality that doesn't depend on the implements of healing. The mystic is a conduit, merely through their life intent, and has the ability to transmit to others. It's kind of like the lightning strike. That's a simplistic answer.

What is a myth about the spiritual path you can expose?

One is that the spiritual path is all bliss. The truth is that while bliss states may, in fact, be present periodically, it's more about the focus of releasing any inauthentic aspects of our psyches. That's easier said than done for most of us. So, that's the real path of a spiritual life and it can be rocky indeed. Ultimately, the relief brought about by becoming more and more authentic, and the result of releasing whatever the flavor of our individual fears, is immense and life changing.

Who is a typical person who might be drawn to the spiritual path in the way you describe it?

What I have noticed is that these people share a common desire to have more in their lives and possess the courage to do so. I'm not talking about material things. I'm speaking of a deeper, heartfelt experience of life. They've gotten to a point where they've realized they were climbing the wrong ladder. They have some hint that there was no ladder to climb after all. It had all been a subterfuge they went through to get to this point of readiness. Age doesn't matter. However, most people who've come to engage with the work I do range in age from their early 40s all the way into early 80s. Some are younger, all the better for them.

I notice that you have scholarship opportunities. What are those?

We have two scholarship funds.

One is expressly for young adults (18-25) to participate in our Spiritual Travel Programs. Having witnessed what a positive impact these programs have on people of any age, I'm especially interested in offering that opportunity to young people who are just on the cusp of making major decisions relative to their life's path. The effect is to really wake people up to what's important.

I feel very fortunate to have a partnership with Nine Gates Programs, Inc., a nonprofit, for this specific scholarship. Therefore, any donations we receive or the portion coming automatically from other travelers' tuitions are tax-deductible for the donors. As a result, we have typically been able to grant 2-3 partial scholarships each year. These young people would not otherwise have been able to participate. For more information, you can take a look at our Spiritual Travel pages on the website.

The other one is a general scholarship fund that we keep for people who need some assistance to participate in our other workshops and retreats. On Monday evenings we hold meditation practice either guided by me or another friend of the circle. Reciprocity for these sessions is in the form of a donation to the Kenosis scholarship fund. This is our service to the community.

What is a major question that you could pose to people that encourages personal growth?

One question is: how does this honor me? I would say that if a person asked that question related to their thoughts and actions it would lead them to the source that guides their behavior. If it comes from a pure motivation of the heart, that's the intent of a spiritual path. If it comes from a place of needing to validate the self somehow, then that's the ego speaking. In any case, there's fertile ground for personal evolution.

To schedule an interview with Carla Woody, please contact:
Cindy Foss, PR and Events Coordinator
(928) 778-1058 /
Kenosis LLC - PO Box 10441 - Prescott, AZ 86304 - 928.778.1058 -
Links Contact Info Catalog Press Release Newsletters and Articles Current Calendar Spiritual Travel and Programs About Kenosis About Carla Woody Home