Who are you?
My name is Acharya Shunya, and I am a spiritual teacher and author, originally from India, and now, for the last two decades, I have been residing in the Bay Area, California.
To me, first and foremost, I am a truth-teller who facilitates authenticity, self-remembrance, and divine feminine pathways to awakening. As the first female head of my Vedic/Hindu spiritual lineage that traces its roots back 2,000 years in India, I reinterpret and re-contextualizes ancient wisdom, to create a learning and awakening path for contemporary seekers, empowering people everywhere to lead healthy, happy, spiritually fearless, fulfilled and enlightened lives. I am told that my teachings act like a bridge between ancient knowledge and issues faced by modern humans, today.
I am the author of two successful, bestselling books Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom (2017) and Sovereign Self (2020). My newest book, Roar Like a Goddess, came out in September 2022, by Sounds True. In this newest book, I honor my progressive Vedic roots while breaking the shackles of tradition to bring modern-day women, an inclusive, feminist spirituality.
Over the last decade, I have founded a few organizations to forward the teachings from my ancient tradition, prominently amongst them is The Awakened Self Foundation. Here, I disseminate authentic Vedic wisdom to support the evolution of the individual, while ushering in a greater planetary awakening. The foundation also supports a vibrant worldwide community and subscription-based membership program: The Vedic Way, supporting seekers to learn, embody and awaken to a whole new level of wellbeing, joy, and authenticity, in a community with like-minded seekers from across the globe.
What do you write?
I am not just a spiritual teacher, which is really a title, a capacity, a calling, a life path, or a way to give back. I am all of that, but first, I am a thinking, feeling, emoting ‘woman’, who dwells on a planet that is stained with patriarchy, wherein power is not shared equally with the female (and non-binary gendered) humans; no matter if we occupy traditional or contemporary societies. Women, universally, also tend to internalize false limiting beliefs that hold us back. Once upon a time, I had done the same. And I abandoned myself emotionally. But today, through Vedic spiritual knowledge that awakens and liberates us from stereotypical scripts, I am free and expansive, inwardly and in every which way! I share this illuminating and empowering wisdom of the Vedas in all my books.
As someone who has journeyed from inner disempowerment to inner sovereignty, darkness to light, from emotional bondage to emotional freedom, I am committed to sharing the authentic and remarkably progressive Vedic ideas that illuminated my way forward, through all my books. For those who may not know, Vedic wisdom is the world’s oldest knowledge-based spiritual tradition in the world, emerging from ancient India. It is the fountainhead of Ayurveda natural medicine for restoring health and wellbeing of the body, Yoga for mental health and peace, and nondual teachings of Advaita, for the soul and how to align with a greater peaceful universal consciousness, despite adverse life circumstances. The Vedic tradition also facilitates divine feminine spiritual insights and practices that connect the human heart with the sacred power underlying all of life, including Hindu goddesses like Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati, who enable empowered self-recognition. These goddesses are the theme of my newest book, Roar Like a Goddess: Every Woman’s Guide to Becoming Unapologetically Powerful, Prosperous, and Peaceful. In a climate of patriarchy, the most difficult leap a woman will ever take is to trust her true voice—that I compare to a roar.
There were decades in my life when I was simply experiencing life, the good, bad, ugly, and lovely aspects of it, as it occurred to me. I could not write then. I could only feel. The author in me emerged only when I stepped back a little from what was happening to me, to identify more with who I am deep inside, a steady inner witness of all my experiences. I began identifying with myself with an unwavering awareness. As a result, I began to see patterns, cosmic reasons, and spiritual causes connected with material consequences. I began to understand the play of Vedic concepts like Yoga, Karma, and Dharma in daily life. This is when I began to write in a systematic manner, in my forties really, and not a day sooner. But I have also not stopped writing since then. I have two published books, one coming out soon and three more in the pipeline. I am glad I did not rush to write books just because I was familiar with the ‘stuff I write about from my twenties onwards. Instead, I allowed life to impact me, change me, mature me, and knock the wind out of me first. I also experimented with meditation and contemplation on Vedic knowledge, and application of this wisdom that I had inherited from my Guru in my daily life, and relationships, allowing it to really do its work, comfort me, and fill me with new perspectives, emotional resilience, joy, and gratitude. This is when I felt called to start sharing what I have mastered in my own life. To me, it’s worth waiting for the time when words emerge from you, spontaneously and gracefully, and truthfully than having to struggle for them or borrow them from other sources. And for this same reason, though I write and publish books and e-books pretty regularly nowadays, I put no pressure on myself to write. To write books is the way my higher Self communicates with me, and I am available to listen.
Where do you write?
I typically write on my desk in my study. I like the stability of having a fixed spot to write. On rare occasions, I move about my house, but generally speaking, you can find me there, typing away on my laptop, especially in the mornings, which is the favorite part of my day! Fortunately, I have huge French windows in my study facing the eastern sky. Every morning, my study gets filled with sunshine, and that impacts my writing, enthusiasm, and mental clarity super positively.
When do you write?
I do not put any pressure on myself, least of all word count in the beginning. I just write and write until I have exhausted my words for a given topic. I feel like a river of light is flowing through me, and I must allow it an uninterrupted passage. I am aware that at the editing stage, I will be in a different, analytical, less spontaneous mindset, and at that time, I can always edit, polish, and adapt my writing to any word limit set by the publisher, etc. This way, I often end up having extra content, not used up in the final manuscript. But then, I get to release it as bonus content or even publish it as stand-alone promotional blogs. Deadlines are a reality in the world of publishing, but because I love writing so much, I tend to meet them with ease. I also clear up my schedule in advance when I am in a writing mode, often keeping my public and social engagements to a minimum, and that period of introversion, that may last a few weeks or several months (it depends on the type of book I am working on), usually supports my meeting my publishing goals ahead of time. Besides, nothing feels more exciting to me, than returning to my laptop to continue where I left off! I truly love being an author, more than anything else I do. I feel, at times, like I was born to write, and I live in an expanded way, through my books.
Why do you write?
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I have never suffered from writer’s block in a strict sense, but sure, there are times when I get stuck on a specific chapter. Then for days and weeks on end, I feel like I am in a fog. I don’t know which way to proceed. Typically, after using my intellect and willpower to a certain point to give the chapter a direction, I choose to mindfully and consciously surrender to my higher muse (spirit). Then, I stop searching for direction. Period. I simply wait because I know that I am going to have to be patient and still inward, to receive guidance from within. And that is what happens every single time. Either in a lucid dream or just at the juncture of waking up from sleep in the wee hours of the morning, I get this download (from my own higher Self). And what I receive through intuition is typically an unexpected turn of ideas in the book. I welcome it. Sometimes I get the download down to exact words, so I keep a mini-voice recorder handy next to me on the bedside table, so I can record myself on some days. I love these morning downloads from Source. They are rich. The writer’s block, in my opinion, is really your soul saying, ‘Stop, don’t rush, let me communicate to you in silence. Listen up.’
Bonus: What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
When I am not writing, I spend a lot of time in nature. Nature always replenishes me. It is such a soul-affirming experience to watch my backyard at the end of winter — cold, bare, and in hibernation, later explode into a symphony of blossoms and fruits after planting seeds and tending to the tender plants. This cycle of birth, growth, and death, and the cosmic intelligence of nature to know when to sprout and when to let go is such a beautiful example of our own human lives and consciousness journey. Spending time with my hands in the garden, feeling the sun, air, and rain is a joyful way to be constantly reminded that we are all part of an incredible and expansive wholeness.
My thanks to Acharya Shunya for today’s interview.