Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
“It isn’t often that a therapist or a spiritual healer will self-disclose. When you’re in a place of teaching, it seems that there is a tendency to leave out the personal story, and I am about having people learn it for themselves. I wanted to loan everybody my shoes.”
Dr. Laurie Ann Levin grew up with a mystical sense that she was meant to be God’s messenger. She later translated this spiritual energy into her passion for film. For more than 25 years, she worked as an agent in Hollywood, representing such talents as Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Michael Keaton. Her intuition always played an important role in choosing new projects and navigating complicated family relationships. After enduring a series of challenges, including the death of her mother, a divorce, and difficulties getting her first films off the ground, she rediscovered her passion for psychology and spirituality. Her memoir details her journey from Hollywood to Moonview Sanctuary, the spiritual healing institute in Santa Monica that she founded in 2004 with medical partner Dr. Terry Eagan, and former CEO-turned-fiancée Gerald Levin.
We are chatting on the last night of Chanukah. You were raised Jewish, and mention one Christmas that you spent in Bora Bora. What holidays do you celebrate?
I celebrate everything. I celebrate Chanukah, Christmas…any reason to celebrate, I’m there. I consider myself to be more universal, even though I do culturally pass down Judaism to my children. I’ve also taken them to Thailand to visit Buddhist temples; I’ve taken them to Hindu temples, to Jerusalem to the Christian Church of Holy Sepulcher…the same odyssey that I’ve been on, I took them on. When you study the world religions, you celebrate love. With my religion my and spirituality, I’m an omnivore, but when it comes to food, I’m vegan.
What made you decide to write this book as a memoir? What about your personal journey added to your overall message about “the universe?”
That was a very, very potent decision. I went through 5000 pages; this book had several incarnations. I wondered if it should it be a spirituality how-to. Should it be a memoir? Should it be a business book? I came up with a memoir because it isn’t often that a therapist or a spiritual healer will self-disclose. When you’re in a place of teaching, it seems that there is a tendency to leave out the personal story, and I am about having people learn it for themselves. I wanted to loan everybody my shoes. I thought that if I could self-disclose the times when you feel untethered, the times when you have solid knowing, the times that you are lost and need the way, show others the way I did it…. When you start to lecture, and get pedantic, you can lose people. This is my truth, not anyone else’s.
I read this book called The Unquiet Mind by Kay Jamison, a psychiatrist who suffered from bipolar disorder. Her book did well within her community, and I felt it was important because I knew there was life after life. I knew that there was something beyond the five tangible senses, and the medical community had kyboshed it. I wanted to join the medical and psychiatric community. I wanted to tell them that you can have a spiritual experience or a mystical experience and not be psychotic or crazy. I really wanted to bring forward how it’s normal. Many agrarian cultures believe, many ancient religions believed, and although we are so deep into connection now, with our hand-held devices, and text messages, and yet we’re not into connection to our own divine source. Maybe we need to reconnect.
What does the title God, the Universe and Where I Fit In mean to you?
I always say that you fit in perfectly, that we need to reconnect. No matter how much guilt, shame, or remorse, we have to get to that place where we can not only forgive, but where we see that we are God. We are all part of the all. We are all connected. There are senders and receivers. If we got to know each other well enough, we would start to pick up cues intuitively. We are really this great web of souls present and souls past. I do believe that we can’t be so narcissistic to think that we are the only souls in the cosmos.
Did your intuition help you when choosing new Hollywood talent (i.e. Madonna, Hugh Hudson)?
I’m sure it did. I know it worked for me as an advantage and I knew I had good instincts. I don’t think I thought about it in terms grander than that. I have good instincts, and I have intuition, and as an agent I could read people, and go after certain projects. I was in my 30s and 40s, at the tail end of my career in show business.
I started to voice my intuition in my 40s, after working with [my spiritual teacher] Frances. It wasn’t until then that I really started to open up, or believe in it in a tangible way.
As far as intuitives go, I was a late bloomer. There are children who feel that they see spirits or orbs, deeply psychic people starting at birth. I knew and I didn’t know how I knew. When I was young, I had a conversation with God and just trusted. It wasn’t until I started Moonview Sanctuary that I really started talking about it. I wanted to get my doctorate and have a credential before I started coming out and saying that I knew.
You invested a lot of time and energy into your career as a talent agent and independent producer before deciding to change your path. What advice do you have for people who find themselves at a similar crossroads in their career? What helped you?
What I do is go really deep, deep inside myself. You should spend some really good time with yourself, uninterrupted time. Everyone is on the go, but if they’re not congruent with their purpose, they’ve got to slow down so much to self consult. Take the time late at night, or early in the morning, by the beach, at a stream. Take a legal pad and a pen, and write your question at top of the page. Say a prayer, or make one up. Call on those energies that guide you. Trust that there is a consciousnesses. Do some automatic writing.
If you find yourself at a crossroads, in a job that you don’t want to be in, whether it’s a career choice, or just a crazy market, it’s important to find congruence. We work at a reactionary rate: Something is put in front of us, and we do our task. We’re not really connecting with our own source. That’s what helped me out of my depression, my divorce; that’s helped me out of so much.
What tips do you have for young people navigating the dueling worlds of corporate business and personal spirituality and ethics?
You really go with your gut, to go and find the right people. There are good people in show business; try to use your own internal radar. Meditate. At a soul level you have to trust that you are exactly where you need to be at any moment, that whatever’s brought to you is for growth and for self love. State clearly what you want for your life and then go and try to find it.
As young writers go, it is important to trust and love everybody. If it doesn’t smell right…don’t take the job.
How do you know when something “doesn’t smell right?”
You’ve got to read your body. First you ask God, guidance, or Mother Nature to please give you a sign. Everybody processes information differently. The way that guidance talks to you might be different for everybody. I’ll often get the chills, hairs on my body, feel an electrical charge, or have a dream.
When you are going into a meeting, ask yourself: What’s my anxiety? How should I read this situation? See how the meeting went in your head, and really think about it. Have open, welcoming arms, and see what you’re attracted to, see if you have choice. And don’t beat yourself up if it’s not the right thing; there was something to learn.
After you got your Ph.D. and decided you wanted to create Moonview Sanctuary, you and your business partner contacted Gerald Levin, former CEO of AOL / Time Warner, to see if he would be interested in supporting Moonview. You learned that Levin’s son had been tragically murdered. Before meeting Levin in New York, you say that you channeled his son in search of advice. Could you tell us about this experience?
I Googled him before I met him, and I read all about his son Jon. I did one of those meditations, where I slow myself down, and picture person in front of me. Whether they’re living or not, I walk into the person, energetically. Jon was dead at the time. I went in to visit to see if there was something I needed to know for the meeting. I thought he was preparing for the meeting when he said that his father was in an unhappy marriage. I didn’t plan on telling Jerry that; I didn’t know Jon was preparing me to marry him.
[When I got to New York,] I walked in and saw this man, who was definitely in an office that he wasn’t used to, with a lot of rented furniture. It looked like he’d lost a lot of weight, and he was terribly frail. But he was a really good listener and a very kind man. As I pitched him this story, and I saw all these big “Do Not Disturb” signs, I suddenly asked him, “Do you mind if I hug you?” You could tell that he was not the type that would invite a hug, but that he needed it very much. It was informal. It wasn’t sexual; it was just a hug. It was almost sad.
When we left, my medical director partner said: “This man’s depressed; we should send him flowers.” When I was courting him to be on the Moonview board, I didn’t realize that I was going to be marrying him. As it turned out, when we finally had dinner, he asked me this question about death and dying. I felt like I needed to tell him what Jon said—that he had chosen his death to blow open his father. He looked at me, and knew that I was speaking the truth. It was true; his son chose this. People have work to do on the other side. He is helping many more people than he could in the classroom. That’s why I wanted to go and study as much as I could, not just from interviewing people, and working with patients, but also from many years of study about death and dying. They are vastly serving us, that’s the important thing to remember. I can say it in six words: We’re divinely protected, directed, and connected.
Finally, Dr. Laurie Ann Levin, what’s your personal Six Word Memoir?
Live life in love and light.
BUY God, the Universe, and Where I Fit In
VISIT Laurie Ann Levin’s website
WATCH a video about this memoir
FOLLOW Laurie Ann Levin on twitter