Today we’d like to introduce you to Kamakshi Hart.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The most intimate way to learn about my story is to attend my one-woman show, ‘Wild At Hart: A Tale of Trauma & Triumph’. The next opportunity is my featured performance on March 24th as a part of the annual Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival, a celebration of women performing artists. Don’t miss it! There’s an entire weekend of amazing shows, more information at http://lawtf.org/ Writing and performing my own show is a 30-year dream finally come to fruition.
Working in New York Theatre in the 80s, I was exposed to so much creativity and inspiration from a wide range of artists. I believe it was Lily Tomlin’s “The Search for Intelligent Signs of Life in the Universe” that planted the biggest seed of the vision that I would one day perform my own solo show.
I was also an avid journal writer, a life-saving tool that helped me somehow learn to coach and guide myself through the crises of my everyday life. I never went anywhere without a notebook and pen. I regularly walked long stretches of Manhattan with my notebook in hand so as inspiration flowed in I would stop immediately so as not to miss any of it.
One such day, probably during the midst of some painful personal drama, I heard a clear, inner voice that said, “one day, you will be called upon to tell your story.” I was 26 at the time, and I know that because I’ve kept every one of my journals (with dated entries) and one day I found the entry where I wrote this call to action. Why the call to tell my story? I can’t tell you exactly where that prescient voice came in from, but I do know that much of my story was very hard to live.
Sexual trauma by family members at a young age alters the course of any child’s ability to feel safe and whole in the world. Violations in early childhood tend to lead to continuations of the pattern set it motion, and unconsciously a young victim becomes prey to more predators. As the years progressed, I experienced the additional wounds of low self-esteem and unshakable feelings of unworthiness and unlovability.
Juxtaposed with this was a creative, buoyant, joyful soul that wasn’t willing to give up. I loved to sing and act and laugh, and I felt deeply connected to God, nature, and animals. I sadly learned to deny myself pursuing a creative career and instead played it safe by going backstage becoming an accomplished production stage manager yet always somewhat heartsick from not living my true dream.
These tests and trials set me on a path to finding help, hope, and healing. In my early 20s, I reached out in more traditional ways that somehow didn’t work well enough and then the day came where I was guided to my first yoga class in NYC’s East Village. This is where I crossed my first threshold of transformation. Yoga drew me in deeply, and I went on to move into the Kripalu Center for Yoga in Massachusetts where I received my spiritual name Kamakshi.
I legally changed my name to Kamakshi Hart from Diane Hartdagen in 1996. It was what I knew I had to do and I highly recommend it! Freeing ourselves from the thinking that a name is forever is another gateway to liberation from limitations. I don’t think it’s for everyone, nothing is!, but it absolutely served me and though there are plenty of other choices I may regret, Kamakshi Hart is the name I chose for myself. Empowerment.
A trauma survivor’s life is sadly short on feeling in any way empowered to live a life free of suffering and pain. I dedicated myself to turning this around over the next decade, opening my own yoga studio on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC. And becoming the personal yoga teacher of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
No matter all the healthy turns my life had made I continued to crash and burn when it came to relationship. After a divorce and the rattling impact of 9/11, I heard that clear, inner voice once again that told me it was time to move on. This time it would be across the continental U.S. to sunny SoCal, a place I never thought would be my home. I serendipitously found the University of Santa Monica and enrolled in the master’s degree spiritual psychology program.
Through the experiential curriculum repressed memories of childhood abuse surfaced, and my life’s course was altered again. For my own survival, I needed to learn and profoundly internalize the very healing techniques that I was going to be sharing with others in my private practice to come. Having the good fortune to be guided to live in Topanga, I simultaneously fell in love with the chaparral and oak woodlands of Topanga State Park.
I spent hours and hours wandering the trails, climbing the oaks and finding I could hear their deep, wise voices. I’d come upon another well of healing and transformation that led me to a personal revelation of the way of Rites of Passage and Visions Quests. I began incorporating time in nature with my clients, couples and small groups. Fast forward seven or eight years and one relationship ended while another was born.
I was suddenly birthed into step-motherhood to a 7-year old whose mother was dangerously mentally ill. Another transformational threshold to cross, this one causing me to bring my healer’s attention to the issues of parents, families and especially mothers and daughters. My new husband brought more healers into my life, this time with four legs and a whinny! And I became intimately connected with the gifts that horses bring into the live’s of humans.
As I turned 55, the call to my as yet one-woman show resurfaced strongly. Out of the blue I was connected with Jessica Lynn Johnson of Soaring Solo, and the realization of the dream began. In the fall of 2017, she encouraged me to commit to the Whitefire Theatre’s Solofest in early 2018, and I said no absolutely not it was too soon I wouldn’t be ready.
And then one night as I absentmindedly clicked on Facebook I saw the chain, miles long, of women sharing their #MeToo stories. I was frozen in place reading story after story so horribly like mine. And then I knew, if not now, when? If not me, who? Clearly, my time had come – I was indeed “called upon to tell my story.” Exactly 30 years from that first calling I stood on stage and did just that.
From there, I went to the Hollywood Fringe, garnering the Musical Excellence and Encore Producer’s Awards. Yes, I sing in the show, a cappella. And I play 20 characters from my life plus a Golem-like embodiment of Shame. There is tragedy, and there is comedy but most of all there is hope. What I wish to bring more than any other one thing is that no matter how dark it gets there are hope and help for a new day to dawn.
The real calling to share my story in this solo theatre format is to offer an opportunity for others to feel less alone in theirs and to find the courage to share either one on one or in whatever way suits them. I am actively seeking contacts with organizations, women’s groups, high schools, colleges and universities that would bring me in to perform my show and offer follow-up workshops with tools to heal.
Opportunities to turn stories into art and open up the vital conversations of how do we move forward in this #MeToo and #TimesUp climate to make substantive change in treating all humans with dignity and reverence versus diminishment and violence. If through sharing my pain I can somehow alleviate another’s than the pain suddenly becomes easier to bear.
The beauty of the live theatre experience is the potential to feel connected by those invisible threads that remind our souls that we are so much more alike than we are different. Our true stories awaken compassion, build empathy and celebrate resilience. This is what transforms us and ignites positive change in our world.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Ah! Well, I’ve probably made it very clear that Struggle has had a leading role in the daytime soap opera of my life! In my experience, I don’t think any visionary, artist, healer, or person of any solid depth and wisdom could become any of these things without a lot of bumps in the road. Apparently, human beings tend to not choose the tougher track of self-change and evolution without being seriously inconvenienced first and even repeatedly!
I’ve described it often as first, I feel the gentle tap on the shoulder that I need to pay attention to something that I may need to take real action on, then after I invariably don’t do it, I keep the light rap of the knuckles, then a bit of a smack, and then if I still don’t get it comes the 2 x 4 across the temple – whack! Do I have your attention now?
Just six weeks ago, I was thrown from my horse. She spooked, totally took me off guard and flying off I went to hit the hard, hard ground on my left side leaving a dislocated, fractured wrist that needed surgery with pins and plates and months of physical therapy. Talk about Struggle! And I have another performance in ten days, my one year anniversary at the Whitefire Theatre. Thrown off a horse and thrown off course in my life.
More pain, more intensive healing, so many memories surfacing needing to be cleared. I don’t think the healing journey ever completes, it is a continuum. Humility seems to be essential to keep us connected to our humanity. Coming to terms with the journey and the struggles are why I know in my bones that Rites of Passage work is an invaluable tool, a sacred gift from our indigenous elders that was lost to us too many long years ago.
Through this view, every challenge, struggle, loss, and transition can be the very agent of change needed to heal into the next level of a transformed life.
Kamakshi Hart, Transformation Guide & Solo Theatre Artist – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
To sum it up, I specialize in positive, and sometimes even miraculous, change that is lasting and life-changing. I meet each of clients where they are, not where I need them to be. I come from a spiritual base because without the belief in something greater I don’t know how I would have managed to survive my life, but I never impose any belief system on anyone.
I am proud of the work I do with couples, often against seemingly insurmountable situations. I love breaking the ground of healing with men who are often hesitant to reach out for support and to younger people, especially teens and the early 20s where there is so much at stake and such pressure to perform and find identity. I am a bit of a maverick and outlier, I think out of the box and live out of the box and I don’t really know any other way to be.
I have acquired a large toolbox, and I’m happy to utilize whatever magic and medicine will work for each person or family’s situation. My favorite work is in nature as I know personally the great healing that comes from deep relationship with the Earth and it is my joy to share our horses as they carry their gifts of healing to humans from an ancient well of selfless service and devotion. In short, I am a mystic. I see many things that aren’t otherwise seen by the human eye.
My life has gifted me with a kind of sight that sees into the delicate interrelationship of all beings and things. This assists me in helping people of all ages find their way to themselves and to each other in the way I believe all people wish to be – connected, loved and loving.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Winning the awards at the Hollywood Fringe for ‘Wild At Hart’ was a pretty proud moment. Every time a couple, family or young person tells me I have saved their marriage or their life I am really, really proud. I am proud to be someone who walks her talk.
I have completed not one but two Vision Quests – a four day, four-nights journey into solo time with only water to pray for a vision to bring back to my people. I am proud to be a person that wants to do and be good, to help others, the wild earth, and her creatures.
- Address: www.KamakshiHart.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @kamakshihart
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kamakshi.WildAtHart/
Clark and Main Photography, Claire Bryett Andrew, Jeanine Minge