Mindfulness Mode

Entering The Mind; C von Hassett and Rachel Reid Wilkie

April 13, 2022

C von Hassett and Rachel Reid Wilkie are, as they say, co-conspirators in all things – with a heavy emphasis on spirit – which together they’ve been exploring since the day they met. Throughout the years they have collaborated on numerous projects in the Arts, both in Los Angeles and New York City. Their time in the East Village culminated in a monumental exhibition, Documents of Love, at the famed Hosfelt Gallery in Chelsea, where the couple exhibited a diverse body of work – poetry, paintings photography, a short film – to the attendance of thousands. Upon returning to Los Angeles, C von & Rachel founded Riot Material magazine, a now thriving and widely read literary-cultural magazine with its eye on Art, Word, and forward-aiming thought.

Rachel and C are the rare married couple who not only work and create together but practice together day after day, side by side, often knee to knee, in the singular pursuit of knowing the deeper self beyond the conceptual self – that timeless, eternal Being which births forth the temporal one. To that end, the Pandemic Years saw the couple in contemplative retreat at their high-desert ranch in the Northern Mojave, a sacred landscape that sits just below the 12,000-foot peaks of the Eastern Sierra Nevadas. Here, beyond their full immersion into meditative practice, C von wrote Entering the Mind, while Rachel delivered to the world her inaugural spoken-song album, titled XI. 

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Effect on Emotions

  • I have found during the last two years  where we have really emerged ourselves into this practice during the pandemic, my emotions have transformed completely.
  • I'm a very passionate person. I spent many years in Italy, so I learned from the best. I get ecstatically happy and I get very emotionally sad, but I have an incredible new relationship with them [my emotions]. My emotions are almost like an old friend, you know, waving at me saying, Hey, Rachel, I'm back again. This is happy, this is me, this is happy.
  • What happens at that moment is that I'm still within that ecstatic happiness and I'm also calm in the center of that ecstatic happiness. When I feel really, really sad; if I hear some sad news, I get a sense of the deep sorrow within me. But it's still within a calm container. So I've learned that without even trying too hard, this is the practice that has definitely installed itself within me. I've become less much reactive and I don't react instantly to those emotions.
  • On the rare occasion, when I do react instantly without a thought, then I recognize it immediately. And I go, oops, okay, I see you, I see where you're coming from. It's okay, let's just sit down. Let's just take a moment. Let's hold hands. Let's see where we're going with this. And so bringing mindfulness to my emotions has been one of the biggest transformational experiences I have had in the last few years.

Thoughts on Breathing

  • Up until a few years ago, I really kind of poo-pooed the whole breathing practice. I didn't put much stock in it. I've always been intellectual and I love the intellectual approach to meditation. Over The past year I've just come to recognize the utter importance of the breath. And in fact, the breath is the one thing that transitions between the body and the mind, body and the spirit, the body and awareness. You can be sitting down in a meditation practice and still be fully involved in your day and in your world.
  • You have your breath. Then as you settle, and you move into your awareness, the breath is still there. The breath is the beautiful bridge between the two beings. I'm now just absolutely certain that the breath is one of the keys to moving from one perspective to the next. It's like the rope that you pull through in the darkness to get you to the other side if you need it.

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Bullying Story

  • It's a personal story. I was brought up by my parents in the countryside of Cambridge. My brother and I were both expected to go to private schools. He went to the private school, which is actually a castle, and at the young, bright age of 11, I wanted to go my own way.
  • I asked my parents if I could go to the state school, because not only did I not want to walk in the footsteps of my brother, but I wanted my own space, and I wanted my own independence. So they also had a great art faculty as well, that I really wanted to get into. And so my parents said, yes. So at the age of 11, I went to a public [state] school. I spoke differently from others, I had a rather nice accent.
  • A lot of my colleagues at school, my fellow students, they had some really cool accents. [The way they talked] involved a lot of rude words, so I can't do it here.
  • So I experienced bullying firsthand. And I started very subtle, and I made friends, I had this really lovely close girlfriend, and we used to walk around together.
  • And you know, these long corridors that go on forever, and gangs of girls would be in wait as you walk through this corridor of girls waiting for you. Something's going to happen, you just don't know what's going to happen. And you just brace yourself and you walk through that corridor of girls. Then someone would stick their foot out and you'd fly on your belly down the corridor.
  • So I did actually have one other incident, which was where I was actually pinned up against a locker. Then she lost her temper, and she did actually punch me in the face. At this moment, it wasn't so much her actions towards me, but it was the little crowd of other children behind her, as she punched me in the face, that cackled with laughter.
  • One person's act of bullying can be one thing, but the humiliation and the shame that I felt from the others witnessing it, and then laughing at it. That contributed to this bullying experience.

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