In your own words, how would you describe what you do?
I avoid describing what I do because I wear so many different hats. Sometimes literally. One day I’m wearing a turban and teaching Kundalini yoga and meditation. The next day I’m at my office wearing a baseball cap and blogging about beauty products, or filming YouTube videos on spiritual topics, or otherwise using social media as a force for good. For the past 8 years, I’ve also privately coached people all over the world who want to experience big shifts in their lives.
Where did your interest in spirituality come from? Were you always spiritual? My atheist Jewish father used to tell us growing up that spiritual or religious people are fearful of reality and intellectually weak, but I couldn’t deny that I’ve felt the presence of God around me my entire life. I didn’t always call it God, but I’ve always sensed that there is a power, a force that is guiding and protecting me.
What is your go to feel-good practice or self-care ritual? Self-forgiveness is the bedrock of my spiritual practice. Every day, I place my hands on my heart and say, “Even though I’m not perfect, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.” It’s not always easy to believe. That’s why it’s called “practice.” But because I’ve cultivated an awareness of my own fundamental innocence, it’s easier to see the fundamental innocence in other people. And when I forgive, the world becomes happier, kinder, and more beautiful.
What does a typical day look like for you? No day is ever the same. But no matter what I always do a few things: I close my eyes and connect with my inner peace in the morning; I take a very cold shower; and I listen to my Bedtime Mantras before bed at night.
How did you get into making YouTube videos? Several years ago, I was so angry about Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” legislation I couldn’t sleep. LGBTQ people were being murdered because local spiritual leaders felt being queer was against God’s law. I knew I needed to do something, but all I had was my computer, my heart and my voice. So, I recorded a YouTube video called “God Loves Gays.” An editor at Huffington Post asked for permission to republish it. A big fashion designer saw it and sent me a beautiful thank you note. Then, I received similar messages from hundreds of LGBTQ people around the world. That’s when I decided to continue speaking and living out loud because it was helping people. What’s that saying? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
What is your mantra? I was given a spiritual name by a woman I’ve never met whose only job for decades has been to intuitively assign spiritual names to people based on their strengths and their destiny. My spiritual name is “Mantra Nam,” which loosely means, “The sound of God’s name.” It’s a very fitting name for me because simply by hearing or speaking a holy word, I’m able to sink deeply into a meditative state. Lately, I’ll just use my mind to vibrate the words “God” or “Jesus” or “Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung”. And I feel like a changed man.
What are your tips for centering yourself in a busy city like New York? Remind yourself of the personal goals that motivate you and don’t let other people get in the way of their accomplishment. Have a sense of humor. Don’t take yourself seriously, unless it’s about your ability to spread light in the world. Take the power of your love very seriously and fight to the death for it. Take nothing personally; everybody is on their own trip.
Where are your favorite places to go or eat at in NYC? ABC Kitchen for lunch. Il Mulino Downtown for dinner. Golden Bridge for yoga. Marianne Williamson’s inspiring lectures on Tuesday nights. And for late night fun, Top of the Standard.
Do you have any mentors? What has been their biggest words of wisdom? Gabrielle Bernstein told me, “Don’t try to convert people. Just preach to your choir.” In other words, talk to the people who already love the things you love. That’s worked out for me fabulously well in business and in life.
What does “beauty is wellness and wellness is beauty” mean to you? The most beautiful people I have known radiate kindness, courage, and grace. Turns out, nourishing foods and vibrant thoughts help you to radiate kindness, courage, and grace.