Quiet the Mind & Open the Heart
An Interview with Lindsay Wagner
by Miro Lipinski
New Visions Magazine, April/May 2010.
She was "The Bionic Woman" and star of many highly-rated television films, but for many years Lindsay Wagner has had a mission that transcends TV series and films.
NV: What many people may not realize is that you've been aware of mind/body/spirit dynamics for a long time, even preceding your acting career. When did your interest begin and was there something in particular that sparked it?
Wagner: My passion for studying the Body, Mind and Spirit interaction really began at age 20. Being afraid and sometimes even ashamed to express my feelings about a lot of things, I found myself flattened with an acute ulcer attack. My feelings, not being able to be expressed through normal channels, were eating their way out through my stomach. The doctors at the hospital were pretty convinced that surgical intervention was necessary. My boyfriend's mother brought two dear friends to see me, one a minister, Dr. William Hornaday, the other an MD, Dr. Omar Fareed. Dr. Hornaday was what I would call a holistic minister. His ministry was Christian and yet he taught “to heal the matters of the spirit one must also address the body and mind,” just as a holistic doctor would look at not only your body, but also your mental and emotional patterns to address the imbalance your body is manifesting as a physical ailment. Dr. Fareed was a beautiful example of that. They offered to help me possibly avoid the surgery by going on a broader spectrum healing path. Dr. Fareed kept my acute condition under control in a private hospital for a few days and started me on a severe fast. He taught me to examine the way I felt about myself, others and the world. Dr. Bill, as we lovingly called him, taught me visualization, meditation and I learned to visualize the healing of my stomach and began my education on the potency of thought and intention. Within 6 weeks of learning and practicing under their tutelage, my body had reoriented itself and this—for me at that time—“unbelievable experience” launched me into a lifetime of personal exploration and study of our amazing human potential.
NV: I believe that early on you taught acting therapy to troubled kids, this before you became a television star. Later, you've worked to help those struggling with domestic violence. Has the urge to help people been an innate force in your life or something that's developed through the years?
Wagner: It seems I have been taking care of people all my life. I'm not sure how that happened.
NV: Curiously, given your strong involvement in human potential, the Bionic Woman can be considered a symbol of human potential. Do you find it interesting that this series seems to have evolved around you, almost as if it had sought you out on some level?
Wagner: It's funny you say it that way. I really liked working with kids, which I was doing at the time the series came to me, yet I liked acting very much as well. I was quite torn at one point about how to reconcile these two passions. I was asking every day in my prayers for guidance, clarity and resolution. I also had a deep desire to live my life in service. When the Bionic Woman came into my space it took a dear friend of mine to point out that what I saw as a mere science fiction action show, was actually the answer to my prayers. She said, “if you can negotiate a certain amount of creative control, you can work with children and act at the same time.”
NV: Were you ever seduced by the “Hollywood party lifestyle” during those days? If so, what was it's effect? If not, why not?
Wagner: No. Parties were never my thing. I tend to like more intimate gatherings where people can get to know each other.
NV: You have had a remarkable career, particularly in television. Already in your twenties you were pushing for more socially responsible scripts and deeper characterizations. Was it difficult to “get the nerve” to stress the importance of scripts at such a young age when you were just starting out? What was your source of strength for doing that?
Wagner: I had learned through the experience with my healing about the power of what you focus on having real implications on one's life; and knowing how much time people spend being totally receptive while watching television and movies, I have great respect for the power of television to empower or debilitate. Not that I didn't feel scared about asserting myself a lot of the times but that didn't stop me from doing it.
NV: Aside from selecting film and television projects that had something of value, you also entered into the production end of things. What is your opinion on contemporary entertainment and what we see on television? If it's negative, do you think television can change, and how should it change?
Wagner: I think television has the potential to help bring out the highest qualities of humanity. It's not the medium that creates the problem. It's the lack of understanding how potent the impact of a show is on the audience by many of those who make them and the fear of losing their job for standing up for what they'd really like to see made and not made. I'll admit it's not easy.
The audience is no less responsible for what is on TV. If you don't like what is on TV, stop watching it and don't let your kids watch it. Every time you “watch it anyway” you give that type of programming power. The public has a lot to say about what is on TV and in the movies but you don't realize it. Every time you watch something or turn it off you are voting for what will be on television. Write letters about what you like and don't like and don't be afraid to deal with your boredom if you can't find anything good or positive to watch.
NV: You've been influenced by both Western and Eastern thought in regard to human potential. Which have been the most influential for you?
Wagner: For me that would be impossible to say. I have experienced and studied so many things over the years, Christianity of course, Buddhism, Energy psychology and EFT, Quantum physics, nutrition, acupressure, homeopathy, Inner Bonding, meditation and integrating body, mind and spirit from various teachers. Some of these modalities were already a blend of East and West when I learned them.
NV: Through your experience with different modalities, you've arrived at one in particular that seems highly efficacious—EFT. What has been your experience with EFT and how have you seen it help people?
Wagner: When I first experienced Energy Psychology, I found it to be one of the most effective methods I have ever encountered for shifting negative emotions and unwanted responses and very quickly. It was shocking......as it is for most people the first time. It didn't seem possible that something could shift so quickly. Another form of this technique, which I have also studied, is EFT (emotional freedom technique).
These processes work with the acupressure system to release negative energies that are stuck in our body and emotions, which of course are inseparable and keep us trapped in emotional patterns and responses. I have used this technique with people of all ages and with problems across the board, from the siblings and families of children with special needs, to people incarcerated on a violence charge. All sorts of feelings such as anger, fear, anxiety, grief, loss, loneliness, feeling victimized and resentment dissolve. When those feelings aren't there what I find for myself and others, is a natural sense of peace, joy and vitality just emerges.
NV: You have been doing workshops for a while, both here in the States and abroad. What do these workshops entail? What response have you received?
Wagner: I developed my workshops to help others experience what was the most powerful realization of my life; which is that our experience of any life circumstance is a function of personal perspective, more than the circumstance itself and that as our perspective changes so does our experience. People who come to the workshops have an opportunity to explore and shift their limiting thoughts, attitudes and beliefs that make up ones perspective and learn simple but very effective methods of dealing with their own personal challenges.
In all my workshops and retreats there's always beautiful music and the Oneness Meditation which is about opening to the experience of our inherent connection to the whole of creation and the peace and power that comes from that. It is always a joy for me to witness when the shift happens, when people can finally let go of the pain and burdens they have carried around far too long.