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Trippy Talk: Spirit on the Water

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June Miller is an intuitive healer rich with wisdom and experience in her field. Though Miller has more than 30 years of expertise in intuition and personal growth, it is her life experience that first moved her towards the healing arts. Miller is not one to flaunt her achievements so we’ll present some of them for her. She has been featured on TV shows such as “The Today Show” and “Good Morning America,” in newspapers such as the New York Times, and on stages as a keynote speaker alongside well-known authors such as Dr. Wayne Dyer, Neale Donald Walsch, Dr. Barbara De Angelis, and Shakti Gawain.  

We were able to tap into her experience, told with humor and charm, from Spirit on the Water, her paradisal retreat center in the Virgin Islands that she constructed as a place for people to heal. Built into the cliffs overlooking the ocean by June’s own hands and “whoever I can hire in the Home Depot parking lot,” Spirit on the Water floats between sky and sea. Like a dream; divine and earthy simultaneously. One might run into a tree frog on the way to the bathroom, cute lizards running up the walls, or June’s rescue dogs hanging out by the pool. An infinity pool, by the way, laid with Meditterean blue tiles that sparkle in the sunlight.

As we talked, seated on our bench, we watched a spectacular display of nature so high up that majestic birds flew past us. What gives Spirit on the Water its beauty and healing power – the property itself is healing – is not that it is perfect, ostentatious or ritzy. It’s raw, alive and an ever-expanding expression of Miller’s creative vision. 

Since her humble beginnings, June Miller has lived so many lives, that it’s hard to believe she is only 64 years old. But so many stories about June Miller are unbelievable. Even her son appeared during the interview to chip in out of nowhere – “Oh, favorite June stories?! Can I go first?!” We could listen to her stories for hours, not only about how she’s navigated through life but about the countless human beings she’s helped heal from trauma, addiction, and mental illness. (Writer included.) 

RS: How did Spirit on the Water come about?

JM: By accident.

RS: Do you believe in accidents? 

JM: Yeah, no.

RS: (laughter) 

JM: Spirit on the Water is an extension of me. One of my mottos is, “Perfect is overrated.” Perfect makes me nervous, irritable, and uncomfortable. It wasn’t my idea to do it perfectly. I built into the rocks, around the trees, and into the landscape. I started playing with it like an instrument, a piece of music, the beat of the drum. I worked with all the elements–the winds and the water hitting the shore – not in a woo-woo or organized way but in a, “oh, what I want to do today” kind of way. One day, I wanted to work with clay, tiles, or wood. I just kept making it bigger. Not in a fancy way but in a fun way.

Spirit on the Water

“Spirit on the water, darkness on the face of the deep […] I see you there, I’m blinded by the colors I see, I take good care of what belongs to me” – Bob Dylan, Spirit on the Water

We were on the edge of the world. Far from being frightening, the view expanded in so many directions, unobstructed, into a limitless sky and sea. Sea meets Sky. June, in the middle, her eyes sparkling a mix of the two. On a bench, we spoke for hours, the ocean stretching my eyelids wider than they ever thought they could be. 

Hilarious, heartwarming and inspiring, June has always sought the true nature of herself without getting caught up on this whole “destination” business. One thing is certain, however, she went through a lot to get to Spirit on the Water in 2004. 

Well, it began as a tiny two-bedroom family home, but that quickly proved too small for June. June thinks big, and she thinks big for all the people she works with. Her immense vision and the sheer amount of people coming through the nonexistent front door required it to expand. So, the little house became a villa. Spirit on the Water has been keeping up with the rate of her growth ever since.

RS: How did you get into healing work?

JM: Basically, I was young, and my life was a mess. I was never a meditator, and I didn’t get into the whole “woo-woo-ness” of spirituality. I started by studying me, and why I think the way I do in order to get out of the mentality that I had been raised in, which was based on scarcity. There was never enough or just barely enough.

No matter what, I never felt good enough. I noticed in high school that I didn’t like to study, and I couldn’t get good enough grades. Then, I ended up picking the wrong guys who would beat me up. I was in a place of –“I just can’t get it right.

Through watching my own experiences, I started to realize that the way I was showing up was creating the life that I had. I didn’t understand it while I was being beaten up by a guy. Afterward, however, I understood the way I had put myself in that situation. I picked a guy that would treat me badly because I felt bad about myself. It was a revelation for me to see that it was backward from what I had been taught.

I had thought, you do all this stuff and then you love yourself for it. No, you love yourself first, and that propels you.

Through all of the work that I’ve done, the biggest message of all is to stop trying to be like everybody else, and just get good at being yourself. You find you wake up happy more mornings than not. Really, looking at yourself is preventative medicine.

RS: What do you think the attachment to suffering is about? Or what the attachment to victimhood is about? 

JM: Shame. It’s all rooted in shame, usually. We aren’t even aware of it. Things just happen when we’re little. We begin to make decisions about ourselves at very young ages when we’re really vulnerable and sometimes, not in the healthiest situations. I find that as adults, there are a handful of pivotal moments in which there was a before and after.

The before and after have to do with discussions that you have with yourself around something that happened, which was so significant or traumatic that it caused you to make a lifelong decision. We come up with a catalog of decisions that we tend to use our whole lives. The ones that we make when we’re young don’t necessarily fit the people who we become. 

The Body is a Map to Consciousness

We found a nook in which to settle in the kitchen/living room/patio – there are so few walls that separate the rooms. Spirit on the Water has an open plan and a central courtyard covered in vegetation and tropical flowers that are fuschia, red, periwinkle, and white. The winds still swept through the house and all around us. Even inside, one can feel the power of their material. 

June is one of the realest human beings we’ve ever had the pleasure to witness with a gift for working with the most fundamental and pervasive forces that exist – energy. 

JM: In a physical body, the smallest biological unit is called a cell. The organs are made up of tissue. The tissue is made up of cells. There’s more space between atoms than the atom. Atoms are made of electrons. Electrons are made of quarks and gluons. If you break the body all the way down–the cells, molecules, and electrons–what you’ll get is a tiny black hole and a white hole. The white holes we call quasars and the black holes we call black holes.

RS: How does that relate to health?

JM: It just shows you that when it comes right down to it, you’re all energy. But if you break down anything to its raw form–a table, phone, no matter what it is–you’ll get to the same thing. A little black hole and a white hole. 

The Body Mirror System is an energy body map based on the chakra system that June Miller learned in the 80s from a former Wall Street broker named Martin Brofman. He had been diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live. So, he decided to have as much fun as he could. He left his family and hit the road. Serendipitously, he ended up sitting in front of a Zen monk at a Club Med in Martinique. As the gentlemen were exchanging stories, the Zen monk said, “cancer begins in your mind. That’s where you have to go to get rid of it.” Because of the significant changes he made in his life, his tumor started to shrink. He lived for another thirty years. 

JM: What he found is that everything is energy. It’s malleable; we can manipulate it. We can actually use it to make a difference. Martin Brofman developed the Body Mirror System to help people understand the relationship between what’s going on in the body and what’s going on in their life. Then I expanded on it. Instead of working with people who were really sick, which I did for years, I went into a place of wanting to work with preventative medicine, helping people before they get sick. Looking at our thoughts is one of the ways that we can keep ourselves from getting sick. What you think today will make a difference in how you look tomorrow.

I think we humans have suffered enough. One of the ways to stop suffering is to realize the way that you got yourself there so that you can get yourself out of suffering. In all my years working in healing, your body will tell you where your life is out of balance. 

RS: Could you expand upon looking at your thoughts?

JM: Energy is one thing. What makes the difference, however, is getting underneath: what is the basic thought form that’s giving this illness a place to thrive? Or a place to grow? Where is the repressed anger or unresolved rage causing you to create a reality in which you have to suffer? The rage itself sometimes is not even known. Some people don’t even know why. Things happen when we’re babies, who knows? Then some people have the exact reason. “I remember when I was 12…” We all have before and after moments. Healing is getting underneath the sum of those decisions that we made during those pivotal moments. Illness doesn’t just happen.

RS: It all starts with the thought?

JM: It starts with presence. It starts with being engaged with a moment that allows you to be the fullest expression of yourself. 

RS: Do you think that people understand what it means to be the fullest expression of themselves? 

JM: No, I don’t think so. It’s why I do what I do. Because so many people get stuck in their heads, going round and round, trying to get it right. We pre-think what we want to say, or we decide what we’re going to do before we get there instead of just being in the moment and saying, “What’s true now? What do I want to do now?”

RS: People have their individual body, their chakras, etc., but what about a collective body? 

JM: Everything has a collective body. A corporation or business has trust, passion, power to be, acceptance, creative expression, a need for internal intuition and insight, and unity. That’s an organization. You can take this body map and apply it to anything in regards to looking for balance.

When you listen intuitively, but also to your body, it will tell you. If you have a sore throat, who are you in undelivered communication with? Who are you holding back from? Depending on where the illnesses or symptoms are, or what’s showing up, listen to that and it will show you where you’re out in your life. At the same time, I don’t think it’s possible to stay in balance all the time. We go out of it; we’re human. 

Psychedelics

Our favorite deck at Spirit on the Water is furthest down the cliff with its enormous circular cushy chairs because the winds are so thick, powerful and all-encompassing, they blow our thoughts away like dandelions. And then, there’s only blue, a boat or two, islands and possibilities coming over the horizon. The most healing part of Spirit on the Water is having the world open wide in front of you – it’s an all-natural psychedelic. 

RS: When was your first experience with psychedelics?

JM: In high school but the time that really got my attention was in the ‘80s. I met a group of people in New Mexico who were experimenting with ketamine. One of them was a doctor who had access to things I had never done. Throughout the day and night, we mixed MDMA, ketamine and psilocybin. That experience was one of the pivotal moments that helped shape my entire life. I was already familiar with the spirit world because I’ve been playing with it since I was a very little person. But that experience propelled me into a place that is impossible to describe. It cemented in me a knowing that there’s much more available in that “invisible” world than what I had been thinking. It was suddenly Visible.

RS: Can you talk about how psychedelics work in the healing process?

JM: I’ve always said that we’ve been given everything that we need in order to heal ourselves. I also take antibiotics if I get sick so I’m not anti-medicine by any means. But we have the capacity to heal ourselves and the world. These plants are there for our use. It’s not about the trip medicine. It’s about the places that it takes us and the way that people integrate what they get. 

Ayahuasca, for example, allows a person to expand and detach from the way that they normally see and interact with the world in order for them to see what’s in front of them. It’s not always pretty. It doesn’t always even make sense. You don’t know what you’re seeing and you can’t put it together. Whether it’s the mushrooms, ayahuasca, Ibogaine, MDMA – if you stop trying to put it together, get out of your head, and just follow it–they will take you to a place of information that will allow you to access our own contribution. Think about it, we’re here for each other. Your contribution is going to make a difference. The ritual is what allows for an awakening or a measurable outcome.

RS: Can you expand on that?  

JM: The ritual creates the container. When you have something in a container, you can measure it. It provides a safe environment for people to experience the plants that allows them both expansion and contraction so that wholeness and presence are the same. I am not an academic. I measured the results in my life. When I work with clients, there are some that I can easily measure. This one was a heroin addict and now she’s not –that’s measurable. I’m talking about somebody who was used to having a mediocre life but was fine with it. Or somebody who has been in an unhappy marriage for 20-something years and hasn’t had the courage to make a change. When they do make a change, that then effectuates change in their children and friends. Change is contagious. 

RS: What’s missing from the psychedelic conversation?

JM: We want to understand the importance of having a container and ritual around psychedelics, and to start taking them seriously as healing tools. They’re medicine. They will talk to you but you have to listen. By the way, sometimes, less is more. The object isn’t to go as far as you can go out there. The object is to go just far enough to get a nugget or have an “ah-ha” moment: something that’s been hidden from your view, and something you can use to enhance the next stage of your life. It’s that simple.

RS: What piece of advice would you give a younger you?

JM: Listen from a different place than you’ve ever listened from before.

*

That night, I tiptoed onto the huge platform that June calls a deck, passed the bench, and the pool with its Mediterranean tiles now glistening silver. I laid down, wrapped in a blanket, in what I call the outdoor living room. The clouds created a show on a heavenly scale – charcoal armies, silver marching bands, ships, gods, watchmen, cotton candy castles. Here, the sky unctuous as ink, moon and stars so bright, I could hear the thickness of the palm leaves in the wind – wet, fertile, even erotic. I listened. Everything was alive.

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