Welcome to Season 2!
Nov. 11, 2021

STRETCHING OUR SPIRITS with Jennifer Brannen (Part 2)

STRETCHING OUR SPIRITS with Jennifer Brannen (Part 2)

Part 2 of my conversation with my Soul Sister, Jennifer Brannen, where we discuss spiritual gifts, boxes we end up in, and outrageous spiritual journeying as a world-changing leader. Learn more about her perspective as we discuss:

  • journeying inward
  • spiritual work is a blessing but it's hard work
  • the call to global citizenship
  • the use of our gifts, no matter how great or small

This Week's Brain Break: Miss America Trivia
Tips & Tricks: The Neurological Value of Daydreaming

Guest Biography

Jennifer Brannen is an attorney by trade, but it wasn’t always the plan.  Jen began her spiritual journey in college when she suddenly hit her math wall. Confronted with her limitations, she turned from her dreams of pursuing aeronautical engineering to study Comparative Religion.
Through a series of fortunate events, she landed at a Ram Dass retreat with her mother during college. It changed her life. She began to explore the belief systems of the World with a reflective curiosity and inquisitiveness.  Her head heavy intellectual quest became a heart centered spiritual practice. Every moment became an opportunity for awareness, self-reflection, and growth. (Notably, as devoted to the spiritual quest as she was, the institution’s Religion department passed her over for departmental honors when she elected to pursue the experience of a three week pilgrimage through the Himalayas in Nepal rather than fine-tune her academic thesis.)

As her external path wound through managing a homeless shelter, parenting three fantastic children, practicing therapeutic massage and reiki, and finally becoming an estate and elder law attorney, Jen honed the art of listening to the Language of the Universe and her own Soul’s voice in the midst of so much cultural chatter. It is her sacred practice and, as she says, the journey of the Every Day Pilgrim.

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EPISODE REFERENCES
* Book: Grist for the Mill: Awakening to Oneness, Ram Dass
* Book: Interior Castles, St. Teresa of Avila
* Book: The Gift: Poems by Hafiz, the Great Sufi Master (Renderings by Daniel Ladinsky)

LINKS
* Live Outrageously Coaching & Mentoring: www.live-outrageously.com
* Visioneering Course : visioneering.liveoutrageously.com

BIO
Lady Grey is an award-winning international entertainer and educator. She has been at the helm of numerous performing arts organizations and has performed everywhere from Broadway to the Sydney Olympics. She currently serves as Artistic Director of Lady Grey's Lovelies and leads international sell-out retreats for women (Outrageous Adventures for Outrageous Women).

Connect with Lady Grey

Transcript

Lady Grey: 

Hello,you lovely humans. Welcome to The Live Outrageously with Lady Grey podcast. I am your hostess, Lady Grey. And we're here to talk about living outside the box, breaking down barriers, thinking differently and making a bigger impact on the world. Find us on clubhouse every Thursday for coffee talk. And every Sunday for Girl Talk with Lady Grey. I would really love to connect with you and get to know you better. So I hope that you'll join us. Hey, everybody, welcome back. I'm so glad you're here with me today. I have a great show for you today. We're here for part two of stretching our spirits with Jennifer Brannon and exploring a more deep and integrated spiritual path. Later on in the program, we'll take a little brain break. And I'll share with you some of my favorite things, including some fun trivia about Miss America and its history. Towards the end of our show, I'll be talking about why as a world changer, you should be daydreaming more and how important it is to explore different brain states. If you haven't had a chance to listen to my last episode with Jennifer Brannan, which was part one of stretching our spirits, we talked about global citizenship, and how we treat people around us. We touched on the practice of awareness and self reflection and self responsibility. We also talked about the work of the spiritual path and how it's a blessing all the time, but it is work. Another point that we covered was that there's a spiritual shifts are happening all over the world. And there's an awakening of not just personal spirituality, but accountability for what our faith traditions embrace and stand for. And, you know, we're talking about being global citizens. Like I said, when you're a global citizen, you are being asked to go within, and to start to connect with your humanity, and to connect with the creative force that's within you. You know, we are just sort of spiritual beings wearing some skin. And we have a responsibility to recognize that we have gifts to give the world. And before we jump in to this second part of the interview, just a reminder that we are all human. And we're all in this together, we have a shared experience, even though it may look drastically different than your neighbors, we are all still experiencing the same planet. This week, we are getting deeper into it talking about opening spiritual doors, exercising spiritual discernment, and how all of this translates into leadership and the state of our world. So one of the things that has been very confusing for me is this idea that I knew things. Yeah, just randomly new things. And I don't talk about this a lot publicly, because it weirds people out.

Jennifer Brannen: 

And yes, it does.

Lady Grey: 

They don't know how to talk about it, they want to define it, they need to label it, and it becomes a little bit scary. And so when I was growing up in the Christian church, there wasn't any kind of talk about, quote, spiritual gifts beyond like, leadership and administration and some other things. I mean, that was it. It was like how to run the church. Those were spirit gifts, having somebody who they would call a prophet. Right, right. Like, nobody was saying that that was a possibility for like, a 11 or 12 year old girl, right? That right?

Jennifer Brannen: 

There's no no. For the modern day, Prophet. Sorry, Sarah stepped down. Forget it.

Lady Grey: 

Yeah. So I, I really struggled because I didn't understand. And I didn't have anyone teaching me or helping me understand what this weird sort of stream of information was. I've been told that I'm going to hell for it. I've been told that I was a prophetess and that there was someone there to interpret my message for the entire congregation. I've been told that I needed to be exorcised, because I was possessed by a demon. I mean, I have had every possible explanation for just knowing some truth, right, just having a message or something that I feel like has been placed on my heart for a reason that has downloaded for a reason. And when we talk about gifts, and being good stewards, and all of that, if we aren't responsible, if we aren't going and figuring this stuff out on our own, looking for teachers looking for, how can I, you know, sit with this and reflect and figure out what I need to share and what I need to not share what's for me and what is to edify other people? How do I parse that out? If we are not doing that work, that spiritual work, then we just become like this spout off, right? where everybody's like, Oh, gosh, here they go. Again, you know, I definitely have something to say about that, I'm sure, right. Or you end up inside this shell as like this wreck loose, you know, where you don't know how to talk to people about what you're experiencing spiritually. And I'm bringing this up, because I know that you've gone through some of this yourself, have can speak to speak to that, I'd love to talk about the door being cracked open, is an image that you and I have used before in conversation about, you know, flinging open the door wide is maybe not always practical for everyday life, and not being a nun. And being able to just sit and meditate all day. So the practical understanding of spiritual enlightenment and how we encounter it.

Jennifer Brannen: 

What I'm struck by, again, is the idea of the box that traditions put people in without doing their own spiritual considerations. So how can you think that God created this world in six days, seven days, and isn't still playing with creation or speaking, were a part of it. My worldview does not work that you wind up the toy and you let it run, and you walk away and go, you know, create another world So I, you know, I think that there are lots of us out there, somewhere. who feel boxed in by the traditions. The people who are not doing the work are very afraid of, of that realm. That reality. What I did was go into my shell, right, I had all kinds of experiences with energy and another level and I went into my shell didn't talk a whole lot about it, you know, I trained, did a couple of shamanic workshops. And that's where I started to recognize that there is a language for this, there is a reality that is a tradition that's been around for a long time. And anything that's been around for a long time speaks a lot of truth to a lot of people. And that includes the global traditions, right? Christianity has some beautiful truths to offer, as to others. And they're also things I don't resonate with. But when you start to open the door and recognize those things, it's terrifying for yourself until you start to break down the doors, and try to figure out for yourself, what the hell is going on, you know, because there are there are very real things in this world that people don't want to hear about. It terrifies them. You know, if God is speaking to you, how much do you know about me? Like, like, what do you know I did last night? You know, and and if God's telling you that means that God knows.

Lady Grey: 

Right? It's not a secret.

Jennifer Brannen: 

So there is there is a calling to share these things, right? Because there are a lot of lonely people out there growing I don't know what the hell is going on. And I have heard many stories of people where Spirit just knocks their door down. And certainly that happened to me too, you know, and, and then you realize that part of that is balancing yourself and being able to handle that and discernment. Right? Like that whole question of how much do you say or not say, the more work you do? The more you start to recognize how ready is this human to hear what I have to say? And there is the ability to say to spirit I do not know right now.

Lady Grey: 

Just know.

Jennifer Brannen: 

Yeah, I mean, how have you managed because you came out of a huge box? Yeah. And, and you have done a lot of work in the past couple years in terms of acknowledging for yourself that these things are gifts from spirit. And to a certain degree, you are being asked to open the door for others and say, I see you, I see you as a huge one. Right?

Lady Grey: 

It is huge. And yeah, so one of the things that comes to mind frequently for me, is I see your future self that maybe you cannot see. And that for me, very often is how I perceive truths. That's how I experience this. And that is a beautiful thing that I can offer people. So I you know, I'm working with women all the time now doing all this coaching, and being able to say, I see you fully stepping into your greatness, claiming your crown, you know, becoming the Queen, that you are all of that, right. So it allows me confidence in what I'm doing, because I can see a path, even if they can't sometimes. But in terms of my own personal practice, I guess, ritual has been a strange thing that I stumbled into, and fell in love with, I understood from having read Brother Lawrence and some other interesting kind of perspectives on the practice of repetitive prayer, sort of mindless prayer. I had definitely tried to get into the habit of being in constant prayer, and I epic failure. I was always, maybe it's my ADD or something, I don't know. But I was just all over the place. And so in the rituals of some of the things I experienced in the Orthodox Church, which were engaging all five senses, I found something unlocked for me with the smells, and the taste of communion, right, like all of the things that I was experiencing. So I started doing morning prayer. And they have a prescribed prayer, which went against everything that I had been taught as a young person I have been taught that's just meaningless. Just doing it to get attention, right. It's not actually connecting with God. Right? Well, let me tell you something, my own anxiety when I encounter something, and I can't call my body through breathing, or whatever, I will flip into that one prayer. Sure. And suddenly, my entire nervous system, lets go. And it's, you know, it's a learned response, obviously, but I'm, I find comfort in that rituals. And I'm rewriting my rituals because somebody I talked to gave me the permission to do that. And I needed somebody to do that for me, because I don't feel like these words. make sense. It's like you said before, that this vocabulary just doesn't make sense anymore. And isn't, it isn't rich enough for what I'm trying to do? Right. And so I'm allowing myself to rewrite those to relearn them to practice those things.

Jennifer Brannen: 

But see, having that morning practice with the words that you were given, took you to the place behind the words, yep, it's the practice of really using the tool. And not all tools work for everyone. And this is where society needs to kind of allow movement and allow people to really self reflect because now you have reached that place. That reality behind the words that prayer can take you to, and that self connection and that self soothing aspect to connecting to that energy, that now you can say, well, what are the words that capture that for me? And then that's the next step, like, okay, so then you're going to connect to those words, what's behind those words, the spiritual practice takes you higher and higher and higher, right? And you really need to kind of be grounded in what's going on for you so that you can keep climbing. And it doesn't have to be that you're a monk or a garden hermit. That I want to be a garden hermit.

Lady Grey: 

aspirations.

Jennifer Brannen: 

It's interesting, because the other thing that comes to me is that we limit the spiritual conversations to the spiritual traditions of the world. And part of what I have realized and recognized is that there are spiritual paths in being an attorney, in being a physicist, in being a teacher, holy cow, is that a spiritual path, right? If you if you use it, and you are having things reflected back to you, and realities reflected back to you, and there are physicists out there who are pointing to a lot of the same things that the fifth traditions are pointing to the miraculousness of this world and the patterns that are here and can't deny a certain beauty to this creation and intention to the creation when things repeat all the time. Right? You know. So it's, it's important to recognize that you can be a very spiritual person without having a faith based connection to a tradition.

Lady Grey: 

Getting back to this idea of mind, body and spirit balance, taking care of your whole person, that in order to be really truly healthy, you can't ignore your spiritual life, right we're talking about is your personal journey. And it might be very simple it you know, it might be that you reflect on three things before you go to sleep, right? It could be very, very simple could be that you touched something before you leave your house every day, taking ownership of your spiritual journey, it not being anybody else's responsibility to take you from A to Z. And it's okay to also sort of enter the stream wherever you are. Right? And absolutely, it's not, there's no expectation, there's no oh, here's the bar jump, you know.

Jennifer Brannen: 

So, right, I think for me, the spiritual journey is about stretching my boundaries. So where are my limiting beliefs, where are the places where your ideas make me uncomfortable? I think it's really important to, we are creatures of habit. And we do have lives that lend themselves to doing the same things day in and day out. But that doesn't mean that there aren't opportunities to do an incredible journey within the self, you might not be able to afford to go to Morocco and go into the marketplace. But if you have time, you can sit down and watch a documentary about Morocco and see it or read a book about Morocco. Or if you happen to be in a city that is blessed with people from all over the world sit down and have tea. You know, I had a great conversation with an Uber guy who was from Morocco, and I take me with you. You know, those, those are the places where we learn about ourselves, right, and then learning about ourselves. The more we do that, the more we begin to understand other people because we recognize that maybe they've been triggered, or maybe they're, they're not having a great day. And we so know what that is, and so we can allow for more. And we can also offer ourselves as a gift to the world more because we can make up for that lack of energy that somebody else doesn't have to rise to their best selves at the moment. It's an invitation. So I think it's really important that the spiritual journey is, is like you say you enter wherever you are, that is the blessing of your soul. Your soul journey is yours, and to have permission to rewrite something that you are given to make it yours. But what I will say is, don't throw it all out, because it was given to you in your in your path to find the layers of meaning to you. So I had to go way away from Christianity, though I never let it go completely. But I am now coming back and finding the teachers who I feel like have done the work and embrace Christian beliefs and paths and words and also embrace the traditions of the world. And so it's a global, it really puts it in a global humanity instead of like I'm over here in my little church in the valley in the middle of the country, doing my thing, right, and you're all doing it wrong. That's missing the point.

Lady Grey: 

That's a limiting belief. That is a limiting belief.

Jennifer Brannen: 

Yeah, yeah. You recognize, when you have a limiting belief, you kind of start to recognize your own humanity of. I'm bigger than that. But culture sure plays a role in putting us in a box

Lady Grey: 

And fear. I mean, just flat out fear. There's so many layers of fear of the unknown fear of people judging you fear of failure, if you made to fill in the blank, right? If you get to sort of, there's a whole litany of things and I, I love the idea that we are willing to step up and acknowledge that we've been unkind to each other. We've been judging each other, we have been harsh and full of hates, and it's not one sided. There is a lot of hate flinging around, especially in the US right now. It's important for us as leaders, not just spiritual leaders, but leaders to demonstrate our spiritual lives reflected back into how we lead leading with kindness, seeing the soul, not just with whatever safety or success, right but right leading, leading from that place, and being you know, a spirit, lead entrepreneur or whatever it is right. And that will change our society over time, and hopefully help us heal.

Jennifer Brannen: 

I pray for that all the time.

Lady Grey: 

I know. So you know what that is, that is the sound of our brain break. If you know me, you know that one of my personal obsessions is the roaring 20s. And I also happen to be a pageant girl. But did you know that the Miss America pageant was founded in 1921. The origin of the pageant was an event called The Fall frolic that was held in Atlantic City, and this event was designed to basically bring business back to the boardwalk, and they had 350 decorated rolling wicker chairs that they pushed along a parade route. The 350 chairs were pushed by 350 men, but the main attractions were the maidens who sat in the rolling chairs. The event was so successful that the businessmans league planned to repeat it the following year as a beauty pageant. On September 8 1921 100,000, people gathered at the boardwalk to watch the contestants from Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Ocean City, Camden, Newark, New York and Philadelphia. The 16 year old winner from Washington, DC Margaret Gorman, was crowned the golden mermaid and won $100. The pageant continued consistently except for the years 1928 to 1932 when it was sadly shut down due to financial problems associated with the Great Depression and suggestions that it promoted loose morals with its revival in 1933, a 15 year old one and that prompted future contestants to be between the ages of 18 and 26. It wasn't until 1944 that compensation for Miss America switched from furs and movie contracts to college scholarships. The Miss America Organization announced last year in 2020, that it would postpone its December competition due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The next pageant, which will mark 100 years for Miss America will be held in December of 2021. And speaking of beautiful, strong women, here's a little bit about an upcoming opportunity to learn more about feminine strength and power with me. Imagine breathing in the romance of the city of lights with a small group of fellow goddesses on the same journey of feminine exploration and embracing who you are as outrageous women. Join me in the City of Light for Lady Gray's outrageous Paris retreat. For more information, please visit Paris dot live outrageously.com So now let's get back to my conversation with Jennifer about stretching our spirits. And don't forget to stick around until the end for my discussion about the incredible power of daydreaming and why you need to do more of it in your life.

Jennifer Brannen: 

You have to have permission, right? To sit down and listen, not just to the words, but what is the heart's desire. And if you really sit down and listen to the people who are striving for a healthy planet and a healthy world, they're not coming from a self serving place that is protected by creating division. If you're a real leader, you want to sit down and you want to listen to what's going on with you. How can we work together to find the common place, versus a lot of people on the air on all sides are going, they're crazy, don't listen to them. But we're not going to get anywhere and till we sit down and start to say, well, obviously, you're not a bad person. So tell me what's going on and what you're striving for? What are your concerns? You know, and I think there's more in common than people are being led to believe. Because division is power. And that's part of my concern about this time in history, right? We're all on our own. We don't have the churches who are able to gather the kind of leadership that they once had, because people are leaving the churches. And where does that lead us, it leads us into a place where the politicians are leading from a very self serving place. In many instances, not all instances, I hate to speak in generalities. But we are all stuck in our own devices, with our own individual feeds being fed, whatever we're getting from that, which is not necessarily what you're getting from that. And so the language and the sense of what's going on in time is skewed. And I think it really is an invitation to people to really start reaching out. But reaching out can come from a place of evaluating yourself and your self journey. Right. So the more we know about ourselves, the more we learn about others. And the more we vise, right, learn about others. I mean, it's really a fantastic journey that presents itself constantly. But you have to be aware enough to realize you're having a reaction, right? My my plumber,

Lady Grey: 

oh, no, here we go. This is an ongoing saga.

Jennifer Brannen: 

Yeah. But we have become friends with our plumber, because he's at our house all the time. But he comes from a completely different world than we do. And it's fantastic. Because he comes in and we sit down and we have conversations. And he's like, you know, it's fantastic to sit down with somebody who explores this, rather than decides this. You know, it's it's an exploration that that needs to happen.

Lady Grey: 

Yeah, the art of conversation.

Jennifer Brannen: 

Oh, what's that?

Lady Grey: 

So, if we had to kind of sum all of this up, which is hard to do, but if we had to, like, kind of distill it into what you would consider your outrageous advice for people that are listening to this to be what would that be?

Jennifer Brannen: 

You know, like you said, you can either be yourself and be bombarded with opinions and judgments. Or you can go internally and create a shell to protect yourself from that. There's a there's a balance that evolves. And so to have courage to become your best self is a way to change the world. And not to underestimate that.

Lady Grey: 

Beautiful. I always ask if you want to shout out to anybody before we wrap up. Anybody you want to say hi to

Jennifer Brannen: 

you know, hello to everyone I haven't met, I hope our paths cross. And not anyone in particular. But I want to thank you, Sarah for being a voice for change, and a voice for allowing people to be who they are just having a corner of the world where people can retreat and know that you don't have to be the activist on the corner. And you don't have to be the politician who's sitting across the table from world leaders, but the people who are making this world work and the people who are you know, just being kind and showing up for each other, those people are changing the world too. And they don't have the same platform and the same voice. And I think you are acknowledging that by being who you are what you offer.

Lady Grey: 

Thanks. That was really lovely to hear.

Jennifer Brannen: 

Wow, it's very true. Thank you. We all need to be seen for the part we play. And I think so many people feel unimportant that they don't invest in themselves and the journey. And truth is, you matter? Everyone matters.

Lady Grey: 

Thank you. So speaking of people that don't know you yet, I know you're not a huge social media gal. But is there a way if somebody really feels led to connect with you that you'd recommend that they get ahold of you or find you?

Jennifer Brannen: 

Sure. I'm on LinkedIn, as my attorney self. But I'm certainly open to more conversations than estate planning.

Lady Grey: 

Okay. Well, I will list it in the show notes, then if you send it to me and people can, people can find it there. So much fun. So much. Thank you for teaching us to live a little more outrageously.

Jennifer Brannen: 

Thank you for leading the way.

Lady Grey: 

Each week, I like to leave you with some tips, some practical things that you can apply to your life, mindfulness, presence, flow, state, meditation, these are all really popular concepts right now, in an age where we are constantly stressed out, constantly distracted, and always being pulled from one thing to another. So the idea of calming the mind and being able to rise above the constant chatter is very appealing. But while this is true, it is also important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. Being present is great because it allows you to react more quickly, to enjoy the moment without daydreaming and to let go of stress and fear. And that infamous inner critic. On the other hand, though, there's value to that chatter and to being distracted. And it's important that we don't forget this, let me explain. While mindfulness and presence are good, they shouldn't be sought after, as the only valuable brain state. So in other words, we also have to value the benefit that can come from simply letting our mind wander, and from daydreaming about things, where mindfulness and flow states are usually synonymous. I'm going to get nerdy here, where they're synonymous with Hypo pre frontality. Right, that's meaning that the front part of your brain has has shut down and isn't working. Daydreaming, on the other hand, is achieved when we engage what I call our default mode network, our dmn This is a series of interconnected brain areas. Together, all these brain areas are going to allow your mind to wander through memories and ideas while you're busy doing monotonous tasks. So this is why you're often going to find yourself daydreaming when you're walking. And it's this brain state that Albert Einstein credits with his discovery of the theory of relativity. So He attributes his adult job at the patent office that he used to have with allowing his mind to wander so that he was able to uncover ideas that basically changed our world forever. Many other geniuses and creatives and other key influential figures also describe similar processes, leading to their breakthroughs and their discoveries. This is also when you and I are most likely to solve the problems that are facing us in our daily lives. Or just to imagine some wish fulfilling scenario in which we're, you know, performing in a rock band or with the Rockettes. And guess what, during all these experiences, you couldn't be further from presence or mindfulness. So the moral of the story here is that we could all use a little more of daydreaming in our life. The default mode network or your daydream state is just as valuable as a mindfulness or a flow state. That was awesome today. Thanks, everybody, for joining me. Let's make a difference. Let's change the world together. That's live more outrageously. Please get in touch with me, email me, visit www.liveoutrageously.com to subscribe so you don't miss any of our future episodes. Go be outrageous you lovely humans!

Jennifer Brannen

Seeker/Mom (And attorney)

Jennifer Brannen is an attorney by trade, but it wasn’t always the plan. Jen began her spiritual journey in college when she suddenly hit her math wall. Confronted with her limitations, she turned from her dreams of pursuing aeronautical engineering to study Comparative Religion.
Through a series of fortunate events, she landed at a Ram Dass retreat with her mother during college. It changed her life. She began to explore the belief systems of the World with a reflective curiosity and inquisitiveness. Her head heavy intellectual quest became a heart centered spiritual practice. Every moment became an opportunity for awareness, self-reflection, and growth. (Notably, as devoted to the spiritual quest as she was, the institution’s Religion department passed her over for departmental honors when she elected to pursue the experience of a three week pilgrimage through the Himalayas in Nepal rather than fine-tune her academic thesis.)
As her external path wound through managing a homeless shelter, parenting three fantastic children, practicing therapeutic massage and reiki, and finally becoming an estate and elder law attorney, Jen honed the art of listening to the Language of the Universe and her own Soul’s voice in the midst of so much cultural chatter. It is her sacred practice and, as she says, the journey of the Every Day Pilgrim.