Lucid Cafe

My guest Amikaeyla Gaston has a powerful story. After surviving a devastating and heinous hate crime, she’s focused her energy and her gifts as a musician on helping political refugees, war survivors and at-risk populations begin the process of healing by creating an environment where everyone has a voice.

Show Notes

Amikaeyla Gaston is an international award-winning singer, activist, and executive director/founder of the International Cultural Arts & Healing Sciences Institute.

In this episode, Ami discusses:
  • The profound role that music and vibration plays in our lives
  • The hate crime that almost took her life, and the near death experience she had
  • Her TEDx talk: Dare to Be Dauntless 
  • Performing for the Dalai Lama 
  • Our damaging cultural worldview
  • Unconscious bias
  • Being beyond
  • The barrier mindset
  • What will it take to actually make a shift in the collective consciousness?
  • Dr Fran Peavey’s conversation modality: Strategic Questioning
Learn more about Amikaeyla: 

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What is Lucid Cafe?

What's on the menu at Lucid Cafe? Stories of transformation; healing journeys; thought-provoking conversations about consciousness, shamanism, psychology, ethics. Hosted by Wendy Halley of Lucid Path Wellness & Healing Arts.

You're listening to Lucid Cafe. I'm your host, Wendy Halley.

Hello, and welcome to season five of Lucid Cafe. It's great to be back. It feels like it's been only a few weeks and several years since I was behind the mic talking with you. I didn't think it was possible for time to get any weirder, but somehow it has, at least for me.

Well, we're starting this season out with a bang. I was fortunate enough to have an incredible conversation with Amikaeyla Gaston. She's an amazing human being with a powerful story. She's the founder and executive director for the International Cultural Arts and Healing Sciences Institute and president of the board of directors for World Trust Educational Services. Amikaeyla is a cultural arts ambassador for the State Department, as well as a highly sought after performer and public speaker. She travels worldwide doing expansive and healing work with political refugees, war survivors, and jeopardized populations. Proclaimed is one of the purest contemporary voices by National Public Radio powerhouse Amikaeyla is a force for change.

So, we faced all kinds of obstacles trying to record this conversation, but I'm so glad we were able to make it happen. You're in for a treat. Earlier this year, her publicist, sent me an email asking if I'd be up for having Amikaeyla on the show. The brief bio mentioned that she's a musician who uses music to help heal and build bridges between cultures. It sounded great to me, so I was all in. And what I'm trying to say is, I didn't know anything about her or her work. Usually my guests are promoting a book, so I know a bit about them and where the conversation will go, but that wasn't the case this time. So please don't tell my college journalism instructors this, but I didn't do any investigating before our interview. I didn't google her. I went into our conversation totally blind. But, man, I wish you could see my face as she shared her story. Her story was shocking, heartbreaking, and powerfully inspirational.

I hope you enjoy my conversation with Amikaeyla Gaston as much as I did.

Wendy: Ami, thank you so much for joining me.

Amikaeyla: Thank you so much for having me. Honestly, it's been, exciting to... I've been looking forward to talking to you for a little while, so I'm very excited to be here.

Wendy: Well, that's great to hear. I've been excited to talk to you, too. And the listener does not know; my one listener does not know that we have been trying to do this. This is like the 18th time we've tried to connect. All right, so let's have this conversation and hope that we can get through the whole thing without any kind of.

Amikaeyla: Technical issues or thunderstorms.

Wendy: Right? All right, so I don't know much about you. You are a musician, correct?

Amikaeyla: I am. I am a singer-songwriter and also a percussionist, and I play the piano. Dabble in flute, viola, dulcimer, like all kinds of craziness. But I do, I love music, all types of music.

Wendy: So is that how you make your living is as a musician?

Amikaeyla: Somewhat. I am the founder of the International Cultural Arts and Healing Sciences institute, and I'm also a cultural arts ambassador for the US. State Department. And I am also the executive director for World Trust Educational Services. And all of these things come together and coalesce around authentic expression and really honoring our ability to share our voice and be heard in a way that allows our fullest soul and heart to be revealed. And oftentimes that's through the arts. So I go around the world and I do singing and drumming with a lot of refugees like in Palestine and Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and many, many places, quite frankly. And really encourage drumming for joy and music as medicine. That's the programming that I bring. So I am an artist and I do perform a lot. I actually have a show coming up at the Kennedy Center next week. But it's arts in activism, it's arts in motion. I, uh, just don't have like a standard jazz set down the club, even though I love those too, and I have done those before. But the majority of my performance is around social justice movement.

Wendy: Beautiful. So how did you actually find your way down that path? Because that's quite a list of organizations that you're involved with.

Amikaeyla: I'm also a teacher at the California Jazz Conservatory, a professor and, the director of recruitment for, uh, the California Jazz Conservatory. And I really came about this because my whole family is into music. My mother plays classical piano, my father plays drums and bass and all kinds of things. My brother's also a drummer and in our family we would really weave music into everything. Anytime we wanted to do household chores or get out of household chores, we would play games like hand bone and whoever moved the best rhyme got excused from the chores. So it was always, incentive to sing and to create.

And I grew up in an activist household as well, so we always marched and we had people over making signs and posters so we could go down on the hill and sing We Shall Overcome with hundreds of thousands of people. And there's always music in social justice movements. Otherwise what kind of a march do you have unless somebody's shouting a chance or singing a song? I'm also a child of the was woven into the fabric of everything. It was just baked in. You sang for justice, you revolution revolution, right. You walked for justice. You were all about making change in the world and that's still relevant in Africa today. Gladly and sadly at the same time.

Wendy: Right. So it's in your DNA is what you're saying. You have music in your blood.

Amikaeyla: One hundred percent.

Wendy: I mean, it’s just In your veins. That's cool.

Amikaeyla: Yeah, it's true. Thank the goddess. Seriously, I can't imagine a world without music. It's just too...

Wendy: No, that would be a sad fucking world.

Amikaeyla: Can you imagine?

Wendy: No, I can't imagine. No, because music is medicine.

Amikaeyla: And like, all types of music, like, to me, the wind is music, bird singing is music. Like, it doesn't have to be like notes and, you know, first chorus ending. Everything that makes sound is exquisite. And as part of the way that our cells vibrate vibrational, energetic medicine is 100% real. Our bodies are made up of water. Water is all about vibration. Vibration is a type of sound. We did sound through vibration. So it all weaves together. It's not rocket science, really.

Wendy: No, it's not. And you think about the impact that music has on you. I'm always shocked if I meet someone who says, you know, I never was really into music. And I'm like, what? How does that work? It's rare...

Amikaeyla: But I've heard that too.

Wendy: Yeah.

Amikaeyla: And it almost is kind of like I don't even know how to connect anymore. Right. I'm like, well, maybe I could give you a playlist and you could try again. Maybe you haven't been exposed to the right stuff. But it's hard to imagine another form of connectivity, at least in my world. The majority of my friends are artists of some sort. Whether it's theater, dancing, drumming, singing, whatever it is, there's some form of creative outlet and self expression. And the majority of it in my world, is through music, quite frankly.

Wendy: And you know what? I think we all, whether we're aware of it or not, are craving a creative outlet of some sort.

Amikaeyla: Yes.

Wendy: And that, those of us who aren't able to access that, I don't think that it goes well for us. 

Amikaeyla: Really go mad.

Wendy: Yeah, I don't think it goes well.

Amikaeyla: I mean, honestly, when they say that music soothes the savage beast, I think that's real on so many levels. And, you know, anytime you want to, starting from infancy, self soothe babies, children, even cry in a certain kind of musical timber. Like, there's something about sound that makes it an interesting journey if there is no sound. So I have a lot of cousins who are deaf and they still operate from vibrational place.

Wendy: Absolutely.

Amikaeyla: They bang. There's a way that they hear music through vibration of deep bass and drums in a speaker. There's still connectivity to some vibrational element. And I think without vibration, we are not living organic beings. It's just like the deal.

So however you choose to access it, be it through actual melody and pitch and tone, or if you just really get off banging the drum anyway, you do it. There's a way that is so it and primal when we connect to sound, that it heals us in ways we don't even know. I mean, to me, it's like gravity and air. You might not see it, but you know it's there and you need it.

Wendy: Maybe that's part of the issue, is that we operate on that level, and it's so inherent to who we are that we don't even realize that we operate on that level. And then so when it's missing... but when we connect to it, it's powerful. Right?

Amikaeyla: Totally. You know, it's very interesting, too, like, to hear stories about little little children who all of a sudden will burst into sound. Like, they just suddenly wake up and they're like they hear something, and it resonates with them, and they start singing in alignment with that thing. Be it a rainstick or a bird singing. Little infants are way more in tune to sound. Even before they can see or speak, they're babbling. They're learning their world through sound. And so I'm not sure why we try and unlearn that. Like, either it's not considered sexy or sophisticated to always be humming or making a sound or singing. But a lot of people that, like you said, lose that connectivity around it are, I think, sad. And I'm sure there are studies that are shown ways that people feel alone and disconnected when they can't do some sort of talking to someone or singing with someone or being at a club and listening to music or going out of nature and hearing sounds. Like, I remember when I was in the hospital after I got run over by a truck. And that's a whole other story.

Wendy: Holy shit.

Amikaeyla: When I was in there. Yeah, that's a good one. We'll get into that in a second.

Wendy: Okay, please. Yeah. 

Amikaeyla: When I was in the hospital, the only sound I heard was beeping. Like just...

Wendy: The machines?

Amikaeyla: The machines. And I would try to form some sort of polyrhythmic sound song out of it to keep myself from going nuts. But I really needed, as soon as I could get my hands on headphones, to hear music. It was really the only way that I could heal, truly, my spirit and my body from the inside out, quite frankly, because it's so important. And I do believe that that's how I healed fully from the accident, which happened years ago, actually. I was run over. It was a hate crime that I survived.

Wendy: What?

Amikaeyla: Yeah. (laughs) I thought you knew this.

Wendy: No, I did not know that about you.

Amikaeyla: Okay, the full thing is on my Ted Talk called "Dare to Be Dauntless." So check out all the full details there.

Wendy: And you have a Ted Talk. Okay. So I told you I didn't know much about you.

Amikaeyla: I love you. That's so great.

Wendy: I live under a rock, Ami. So I apologize for that. 

Amikaeyla: I love that rock. No, child, please. And let me tell you something. These days with the news, I prefer to be under a rock.

Wendy: Yeah, I'm under that rock, too. I don't watch news or look at headlines.

Amikaeyla: Because why? Because if it isn't like Real Housewives of some ridiculous town...

Wendy: I'm thinking that if something really serious happens, I will find out about it.

Amikaeyla: Exactly right. The grape vine to me is...

Wendy: It will happen. People will tell me.

Amikaeyla: True that. And you know, honestly, I'd rather watch the elephants. Like they talk about how the tsunami nobody was believing weather forecasters and nobody even really knew. But the way that they knew something was going down was when the elephants started finding higher ground.

Wendy: MmmHmm

Amikaeyla: That's my news channel, honey.

Wendy: All right. So, the hate crime?

Amikaeyla: So what happened was, it was my last big bash before medical school. And I was like, all right, I'm going to go to this giant women's music festival and I'm going to shake my shimmy and draw my drums, go sing my music, and then get to work. And we got to the festival and um, it was a long line to get in. And so I was standing in this field of flowers, just like, this is so funny. I actually was wearing a flower child shirt and that I had tad. Dad. I was very proud. Heavy moment. And I was like, yes, I'm a flower child standing in a field. Flowers. Right. Okay. Anyway, I'm corny like that. And uh, I turned around and this giant white truck ran me over.

Wendy: Jesus.

Amikaeyla: And I remember rolling under this truck and thinking, this is a crazy dream. I have to remember this when I wake up. And I was under the truck and it dragged me 86ft on a gravel road. And it crushed my ribs into my lungs. And I had a pneumothorax and hemotherax and all the thorax'es and all the things that puncture your lungs and cause blood to rush in. And my legs were broken. I had a compound fracture where your bones jut out of your leg? Yeah, baby. It was not a joke. And I actually died when I was under the truck and had the whole near death experience where you go towards the light that they describe.

Wendy: I'd love to hear about that, if you don't mind.

Amikaeyla: Yes, totally. That's actually the best part in my mind. What happened was I remember being under the truck. I got lodged between the wheel and the exhaust. And like my flesh was cooking, cooking, cooking. But the truck couldn't move and nor could I. And I remember lying under this truck and I saw these three sparkling orbs start to pull this like luminescent gauze off my body. And I knew it was my spirit and I knew I was dying. And I started being like, holy crap, my mom is going to kill me if I die out here. Like, I'm going to get double slams. That's what you're headed by my mom. Yeah, dude.
So, I remember looking at these three sparkling orbs pulling this gauze off my body. And I was like, holy shit, I gotta I cannot die out here. So what can I do? So I started trying to think of songs that I could sing and like of all the times to be indecisive. You know those like old 70s, like commercials that are like goodbye Yellow Brick Road. You know, like all these songs sprawling in front of you, right? All the songs I was trying to pick. I didn't know all the words. I'm like yell submarine. OK. No, I don't know the words. Um, uh, uh, like classic rock scrolling through my in front of my face. And I was like, holy crap, I can't think of anything to sing.

And then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I mean literally, literally out of nowhere, this being came towards me. And she had ah, jet black hair that went down her legs and she was all blue, like deep sea blue and like stars. And she had no human face, just and really long wavy arms, right? And she came and she laid her head on my shoulder and wrapped her arm that went all the way down my body and she was rubbing my face and going, just relax, just let go, just relax, just let go. And I remember turning to her and being like, make them put those things back. Tell those orbs, put that gauze back. I got to get out of here. And she was like, just relax, just let go. And I stopped breathing and I left my body and you know, you soar above your body and I could see everything under me. And I went to the clouds and I remember that they talk about a lot in your death experience is that you go to the light of your understanding. So little kids go to their parents bedroom or if you like working in an office, you go to your office, whatever it is. But my parents traveled a lot and we would get plane tickets at night. So we'd fall asleep, my brother and I. But we always went to sleep looking at the setting sun. And so I've always loved big giant orb setting sun. And so I remember flying towards this giant setting sun and it was so quiet and I was like, oh, I could get used to this. And then I started hearing music and just (sings) like this gorgeous singing in full harmony and a language I didn't know.

And the minute I got good with dying, I came swirling back in my body and it was the first time I took a breath and I could feel the pain like everything's broken and crushed, bleeding and burning and everything. And the orbs dropped the thing and the lady left and she felt like all of your grandmother's mushed together, like all of the energies that is maternal and grandmother, great grandmother, just like this beautiful, in the tradition that I study called Lukumi it's like the energy of Yemaya, which is the ocean, like, the deepest part of the ocean. I remember feeling like, wow, this is it. I'm back. And I was so excited, like, I'm not dead. And my face was grinning like this when three women, teeny, tiny women with five guys in the truck lifted the truck up, talk about adrenaline. Lifted the truck up and dragged me out from underneath the truck. Yeah, honey.

I was smiling, but they thought I was grimacing. And they kept saying, say your name. Say your name. And I had to start telling jokes, like, did you hear the one about.... trying to cross the street? Like, all of these different things, so they'd laugh. So then I could focus on breathing because I could only I had no lung capacity because everything was crushed and my chest cavity was filled with blood.
And so one woman this is before cell phones ran to a payphone and called the police. One police officer came. I literally heard him say, "don't worry, boys. One last N word dyke in the world is fine with me," and let them go. And they drove away. No, totally. And then he drove away. He didn't call an ambulance or anything. So then that same woman, marathon sprinted another 5 miles back to the payphone because remember, I was out in the woods for this big giant festival now and called an ambulance. And I could hear the ambulance getting lost in the woods. Like, they get close and they get far. Then they get close and they get far. Finally, they came. They got me.

They choppered me to, this giant, burn hospital where they were going to have to do. Over 70% of my lower body was burned by the exhaust from cooking my flesh. I know, honeychild.

And what's deep is I was in between two other rooms in the hospital. These women were also victims of hate crime. These men had run them over at the Reggae Sunsplash the weekend before. So this was a spree, a killing spree that was happening with African American women in Hart, Michigan. And I heard them flatline next to me. So out of the three of us, I was the only one that survived.

And I was in the hospital for many, many, many months. Many, many, many months. And over several years, it took me to be able to and every day they would come in and they would say, we're going to have to amputate your legs today. And I was like and, uh, I could only move these two fingers. So I would sign language. Not today, maybe tomorrow. But no one could speak sign language in the hospital is so pitiful. So I asked for a pen and paper, and I would write, maybe tomorrow, not today. You were on a ventilator. Everything was plugged in. And there was no talking at all. Like, it had to drain my lungs. I had tubes down my throat, in my nose, everywhere. Right, okay. And so then my mom, who was the assistant surgeon general at the time came and thank God, you know. Both my parents are scientists and physicians and they were able to really monitor what I was being given. How the kind of care that I had. Which again. Reiterates how important it is for us to have community and health advocates with you because otherwise you have no idea. One day, one nurse came in and she was like, alright, I need you to roll over. I'm in traction. And she's like, we're going to have to take out your gallbladder today. And my father woke up and he was like, let me see that chart. And it was the wrong room in the wrong bed. Oh my gosh, honestly. And I was like, what is happening?

Wendy: A shit show.

Amikaeyla: So when I finally got to medical school, I was that student in the front and center, like, that's wrong. That's wrong. As a patient, I can tell you you need more than six to 9 minutes with your patients because that's part of the protocol that they teach. And so it was very interesting to be in a place where my healing was very basic in complementary medicine. I was a vegan at the time. I had people coming in with crystals and drumming and like, I was that room, honey. That was the only way that I was going to heal. And I just told the nurses, I was like, you're just going to have to get over it because incense is going to be burning and there will be this is going to be in that booty room, honey. Finally, after that, it was that incident that got me to create the organization I told you about, the International Cultural Arts and Human Science Institute. And the music is medicine programming that I do within it. Because I do feel and have seen when I work with these at risk children, youth and family populations that have been traumatized and ravaged by war and they're steeped in PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, and they just can't move or speak. The way through is singing. The way through is drumming. The way through is an outlet for them when words don't do it. To just be free. And actually it was the Dalai Lama. When I sang for him, that was the one that was like, you need to do that. And so it was really a beautiful, journey. Yes. I got to see.

Wendy: Really? A what the fuck kind of journey. Holy shit.

Amikaeyla: I love it.

Wendy: I mean, I wish people could see my face as I'm listening to you right now.

Amikaeyla: When I got the invitation, it came in the email and it was like, his Holiness to Dalai Lama has chosen you to be one of six worldwide performers to commemorate the golden Buddha statue in India. And I felt like I was reading, I have $6 million in the bank and can you know, one of those sham deals where you're like...

Wendy: Yeah, exactly.

Amikaeyla: So I just responded...

Wendy: Send me a money order to access...

Amikaeyla: I just responded one word. I was like, sure. S-u-r-e. Like, whatever, dude. And, you know, I responded in, like, two weeks. At my job came this beautiful package. Henna, smelled like incense. And just like it was crazy. I was like, oh, my God, it's for real. What the fuck? Right?

So I ran home. I was like, Mommy, you got to open this with me, because I don't know if this is what's up. So we opened it together, and it was from the head rinpoche from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. I was like, what? This is real? I'm going I didn't know what I was doing. I packed up, me and two musician friends of mine. I'm like we gonna sing for the Dalai Lama. Let's go. And we went to Darnazi, India. It was incredible.

And on our way to New Delhi, we rehearsed at this monkey temple, literally, with all of these monkeys. That was our audience. The head monkey came down and, like, stolen egg and like, what is that shaking? But they would sit and listen to us play music. So here are the animals sitting and listening to us.

We get there to sing for His Holiness. And I had seen and read a lot of works by the Dalai Lama and the big calendar and all the things, right? All of the ways that he's, like, pumped up in the world. And I was like, I'm very excited to see what this brother is about. Like, is he really as shiny as everybody says? And I am here to tell you, sister love from the bottom of my heart the air stood still when that dude walked down. For real, for real, for real. Not just pomp and circumstance. Like, it wasn't just for show. This man, when he came in and they blew this beautiful showfar, and everyone was there, there was, like, 50 Tibetans that are kneeling on the ground in front of the stage, and he had this big throne that he was going to get walked to. And he was walking, and you could hear, like, even the birds stopped. Everything was like, wow. And he was walking with a smile, and they were throwing flower petals in front of him. And it was just exquisite. I was like, whoa. This is not a joke. This dude has got some juju going on.
So they walk him to his throne, and everyone sings before me. And it's like, all the things I'm the closing artist, and there's only six of us, right? And it's all, like, pretty acoustic simple. It's not like rock bands or anything. And so me and two of my friends, we sing the song, and I'm drumming, and I go, hey, Baba Dalai Lama, at the end of the song, and all of a sudden, all these people that have been silent are cracking up. And I open my eyes, what happened?

And I'm looking at him, and his little feet are in the air. He's like, he's cracking up, and everyone's laughing. I have no idea what happened. I was like, Maybe an eagle flew overhead or a child did something. I'm like, at the end of the song, dude, all of these everyone bum rushed the stage. They were squeezing my cheeks. And I just figured, maybe it's because I'm, the last artist. This is what they always I have no idea what's going on. So all the artists at the end, the Dalai Lama is putting these, they're called Peace Prayer shawls, around your shoulders. And he kind of bows and you bow, and you put it over your head. And as he you know, everyone's going in front of me, and I'm the last one. And as he's putting it over me, he whispers in my ear, I'll be your daddy. And I was like, what? What? And then I'm like, yes. Um, thank you. And done. You're my dad.

I get back to the embassy, and they are cracking up. And they're like, we love when you called him Daddy. I was like, when did I call him Daddy? In their tradition and culture when you say Baba, nobody over three calls anyone Baba. Baba means daddy, but in African tradition, it means great teacher, it means elder, someone you respect. But it doesn't literally mean-

Wendy: So the cultures crossed right there.

Amikaeyla: Which is why part of the work that I also do is around culture and diversity, equity and inclusion, and really getting us to a place where being all of us, one voice, one sound, one rose bush with different roses. Like, we can all be together and have different cultures and have biodiversity and have it be cool. Like, it doesn't have to be so drama filled. And that hate filled. Hate crime really drove that moment. Yes. Isn't there a way for us to coexist? Like, what drove them to a place of such hatred and irreverence for life? Like, they just could care less that it was fun to go do that? And I think there are many different layers and things to tease out. Like, how does our society yes. How does our society really honor death and killing and divisiveness, as opposed to harmony, peace, and togetherness? Why is that? What does that conversation look like? What is that about? What is the, uh, financial gain? Because there's always follow the dollars to keep us divided and unhappy. And it's very formulaic, right? Like, it doesn't come out of nowhere. There's a reason why we're pitted against one another, because there are ways to sell us stuff to keep us feeling better than. So it's always a winner versus a loser. That kind of biased dyad thinking there's one winner versus loser.

Wendy: It seems to be, for me, and I say this in other shows, so I apologize for repeating myself once again, but, it seems to be really based in colonial mind.

Amikaeyla: Absolutely, girlfriend! Say that in every single show. Because if you don't repeat it, people don't understand the depth and profundity of how real that is. It has to be said over and over again, it is the colonized mind. But go ahead. What were you going to say? Sorry...

Wendy: Oh, no, I was just going to say indigenous mind is about relationship. There's no room for division in that cultural worldview. Not that all indigenous people don't have divisiveness. I mean, there's that that exists in the world and historically. But I'm just saying as a cultural world view, colonial mind is that sense of ownership that separates people.

Amikaeyla: Based in consumerism, based in power and privilege, based in over than, right? Absolutely. I have more than you. Ha ha. That's really the name of the game. Right. As opposed to we all have. It's me versus you.

Wendy: Yeah.

Amikaeyla: And it doesn't have to be versus and it's very interesting to see. Like. A lot of the work that I do with this organization. World Trust. You know. I do a lot of learning labs and facilitated conversations where we really have to create the safe space and brave space to have a dialogue around addressing unconscious bias and how to talk about power and privilege and. You know. On the one hand. Everybody can really get with yeah. Bias is bad. It's not really good. But when you start teasing out, letting go of power and privilege, it gets really scary for people. Because the beginning of our lives is all about the race to get the most, to have the most, to be the best, to be the one. This kind of apex predator mindset that of course, causes cognitive dissonance around sharing and being in all one space. So I do a lot of talks around a concept I call being beyond. And it's one of those things where if we could get beyond the isths and isms that keep us packaged. And that was one of the things that I learned when I was also out of body. The skin bag that we have, mine versus yours, is just that it is this thin layer of melanin content that's, uh, it I got a little bit more than you. It's just a genetic makeup thing when it's stripped out and we're all just protons, electrons, and neutrons, right? And I'm flying through the sky and I can feel the molecular air go through me.

Wendy: In that other place that you went to. Right? There's no gender, there's no skin, there's no skin color.

Amikaeyla: That's it. And yet there's an existence, there's a beingness. And so if we could access the freedom of beingness and being beyond these body wrapper divisions that people have set up to keep us constantly dissatisfied even within our own, you know, homogenous culture. Like, if I only hung out with my kind of folk, there would still be divisiveness. It would be around ableism bodyism all more isms start getting up high. It isn't just racism, honey. Like, there's just layers of stuff where people are taught to be shod and Freud of Pokey Pokey, you know, like, I'm better than you. Why? When we see the wrath of bullying, when we see the wrath of othering, when we see how it is killing our planet, literally killing, us as a community, literally, what will it take for us to decide once and for all that barrier mindset is really going to be our demise. It's not going to be another ice age or a tsunami. Or maybe it is. Maybe Mother Earth is like, you know what? I'm just going to take y'all out.

Wendy: Well, I've been wondering. Yeah, who knows what it's going to take? We're not a very highly evolved species.

Amikaeyla: So true. I mean, ants rock so much harder than we do.

Wendy: But is that part of the reason why we're here too, is to learn all of these things? And we've gotten so far away from the lessons that we need a little shaking up to remind us.

Amikaeyla: Absolutely. And I think that he who shall not be named, that's part of what he's doing. People are always like, Trump's here to shake stuff up. But I think the shakeup is in such a larger sense than what people thought was going to happen. It really uncovered the true level of hatred that still exists in this country and worldwide.

Wendy: Mhm right. I had a visionary experience in 2008 that said we were going to be coming up on a time that I refer to as the chaos.

Amikaeyla: Yes.

Wendy: Where all of the things that were hidden were going to be revealed. And it was going to happen on every level, the global level, regional level, the national level, and, then the community level, and then down to the family system couples, the individual. Like, you can run but you can't hide kind of thing.

And that's where we were headed. And I didn't know what it was going to look like, other than it was not going to be fun. It's not super fun, but here we are. But I think there is kind of something to it. Kind of what I think you're saying, right? That these sort of tricksterish characters and these experiences that we're having are forcing us to look at things in a more true sense, but we're so collectively full of bullshit.

Amikaeyla: I think we have to add into the pot Covid. The way that people like families divided around vaccinations when we've all had vaccines, for so long. It's this collective hive mind that is still pitting us versus them. I saw this comedian, he was like, instead of having gangs of, like, the Crips and the Bloods, it's like Moderna versus J and J versus Pfizer versus Anti -vaxing. So it is going to be a trip. Pick a group, right? And, it'll be a trip to see how this all shakes out.

Wendy: I'm actually fascinated in my little bubble here in Vermont, watching what's going to happen. I've got my popcorn, doing my thing, talking about colonial mind here and there, and talking to incredible people like you.

I was going to say that I'm so sorry we live in a world where that hate crime happened to you.

Amikaeyla: Thank you, and I appreciate that, and I take that in and I think about how I, am just one drop in a bucket of George Floyd's. When they did these marches where they just started listing the names of just one particular strain of people that have been abused by one particular strain of humanity, ie. The cops, there was no end to the list. It was so vast and massive. It just became like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Just endless, endless.

And, you know, you think about I think about Emmett Till, I think about Harriet Tubman. I think about people from our collective history and history that stood in an iconic fashion like George Floyd does now to remind us all of how bad this is and how we still have so much more work to do.

And I am, like you said, popcorn in hand, extremely curious on how it's not resonating enough to a place of actual departure into becoming a true change agent. And a lot of people have, I will say, like, a lot of the work that I do, where I go out and do these facilitations, where the World Trust picked up a lot after George Floyd, but because it's two years later now, and people are like, okay, I don't feel like talking about that anymore. I'd rather watch Netflix and do something else. How it's dwindled to almost nothing again. So, yeah, the desire to actually make change is very, um, tied to trauma and traumatic events. And so I do believe that this is part of our reality TV addiction. Right? Like true crime stories. Right. M instead of actually wanting to be a part of the solution, it's like, what's gonna happen next? Everyone standing on the sidelines and too exhausted to do any of the hard work it takes to actualize a shift in collective consciousness.

Wendy: So what I was going to ask you is then that whole, near death experience, it seemed to have inspired you to go down this path, right? And how cool that you're doing that out of that experience, because you could have gone in a myriad of directions from that, and you chose to do the work around connection and just connection, trying to connect people to their own music, to their own voice, to each other. So what do you want people to know about your work?

Amikaeyla: Thank you.

Wendy: Or anything you promote about your work?

Amikaeyla: I would love to actually promote, everyone that's listening, promote your own work. And you can utilize tools that I can provide by going to For racial equity learning tools or any of these things. And you can also, like, check out my Ted Talk "Dare to Be Dauntless."

But even more than that, it isn't just my voice. Keep listening to Lucid Cafe. Keep listening to people who are trying to be the mouthpiece for nuanced thought leaders to shift to the next level of being I don't want to say abolitionist, but being on the front lines for growth and expansion and radical imagination.

And I think that that is the most powerful way to be in alignment with life, is to be in life. Not just watch life, not just talk about life, but to be in life. Be in the movement for change. Be one of the true change maker agents. What is that going to take? That's going to take doing things like this, having these very profound conversations by listening to podcasts like this, by checking out websites with other people that are having conversations and then doing it yourself. Going out and starting a brown bag conversation group where you're talking about how to make change in your neighborhood, at your local school, whatever it is. But not being afraid.

There's so much conversation around, oh, everyone's getting- it's cancel culture and self-silencing, and nobody's going to do anything because we're too afraid to get in trouble with the MeToo movement and this, that and the other thing. And I'm here to tell you that you're going to have a really small, subscribe life if you are afraid to not just share your voice, but hear other voices. And to be brave to do that, you have to be brave to put yourself out there with the possibility that people aren't gonna like what you have to say. And that's okay. It doesn't have to be volatile and destructive.

That's part of this whole reality TV addiction I was talking about earlier. We could have this beautiful conversation and I could say something, and you could be like, well, actually, I like Trump, and we can have discourse. Like, isn't that the beauty of it?

And, I mean, I've gone to places like Isa Rajan where I say, where do you all sit around and talk about things you want to change in your government structure? And she responded to me, "only from jail."

Wendy: Okay.  All right, there it is.

Amikaeyla: Yeah, exactly. If that doesn't inspire you to be like, okay, let's talk, and let's talk in a way that's going to bring about yup. A desire.

Wendy: Yeah, conversation. We need to have conversations. And there's a way to have conversations, too, that even I mean, where it doesn't have to end in an ugly way. There's an art to it, though, right?

Amikaeyla: Absolutely. That's right.

Wendy: So we need to learn the art of communication.

Amikaeyla: That's right. Talk about it. And that I actually can say. One of the things that we do at World Trust is we do this conversation modality called strategic questioning, started by Dr. Fran Peavey where you actually engage in a conversation that's based around diving deeper through questions and being curious and open and allowing things to unveil themselves without it being, like, argumentative and shaming, blaming and filled with guilt and all of those things. Like you said, there's an art to it.

Wendy: Perfect. Yeah.

Amikaeyla: Yeah. absolutely. I'm, so glad you have this Lucid Cafe. What a great name, what a great space.

Wendy: I love the word lucid. Thank you so much. Well, now that I've heard your story, I'm extra glad that we were able to make this conversation work. 19th time it worked. I'm really so glad that you came on.

Amikaeyla: Me, too.

Wendy: And I'm so glad you're out in the world doing what you're doing.

Amikaeyla: Thank you. And my website is getting almost done. When it's done, check out www. Well, you don't have to say those w's anymore,

Wendy: Okay. And I'm going to put links to all of those things in the show, like your Ted Talk and your foundation and your website. And I just want to thank you again for coming on and sharing your story. It's super crazy powerful.

Amikaeyla: Thank you so much, sweetheart I appreciate your time and the beauty that you are making in the world doing this great work.


Holy shit. Right? I'm thinking season five is off to a mighty fine start. If you'd like to learn more about Amikaeyla and her work, I've included links to her website and Ted Talk in the show notes.

Stay tuned. I've got a whole bunch more thought-provoking episodes coming your way this season.

Thank you so much for listening and for supporting the podcast in whatever way you can; by giving it a positive review, letting others know about the show, making a donation of any amount, or by checking out the offerings at the Lucid Path Etsy Shop.

Until next time....