As I walk my path, I'm here to support you, as you walk yours. We're in this together.
Hello, I’m Darananda. My given name is Dara Blumenthal and my spiritual name is Ananda. I mostly go by Darananda or Dara.
My life has been somewhat atypical from the beginning. I was raised with ‘secure attachment’ in a stable, loving, household where I learned about self-trust, autonomy, and karma from the age of about three years old. I wasn’t taught this in a formal sense, my parents aren’t Buddhist; I was taught this in a direct, embodied way. My parents gave me a safe home, attuned to my needs and emotions as best they could, and honored my uniqueness by giving me the opportunity to make decisions about my life from very early on. They invited me to participate in creating my reality and honored the decisions or choices I made. I would choose something and then it would happen. This was a kind of powerful magic, personal agency, or what we might call manifesting power. I learned to have confidence in cause and effect and my own decision-making power. Furthermore, I wasn't ever shamed for my choices nor pressured into what may parents thought was best for me. They supported and trusted me to know what I needed or wanted and delighted in learning about my perspective. This, I have come to learn is a somewhat remarkable way to grow up.
This upbringing engendered very deep self-trust, self-belief, and self-responsibility which are primary in my experience. I understood power and power dynamics from very early on. Doubt is a mental quality I rarely encounter. While I was certainly conditioned by my family system, culture, and the society I grew up in, I didn’t experience any significant trauma in my childhood. This combination of factors has enabled me to be fairly fearless and unrelenting in both engaging fully in my life and going towards my own inner work - especially the shadow work and intense spiritual initiations, which are central to truly growing up, taking responsibility, and walking the spiritual path. Discovering, deeply encountering, and devouring my conditioned suffering has been my focus for the past 10 years.
I offer this all to contextualize the following: while many healers, helpers, and teachers are motivated by seeking to heal and overcome trauma or simply manage human suffering - because that is what they have known - my motivation comes from a lifelong connection to the richness of Being, which is inherently possible for us all to experience during this human life. Pursuing this direct connection to Being is what my life is about, little else has held my attention.
Practically, this led me to study identity and embodiment at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU, where I earned a BA. While I was at Gallatin, in 2005, I began studying mind-body awareness, energy medicine, and meditating with the body. In 2008 I became a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master. My senior colloquium (2007) was entitled Music, Metaphysics, and the Conscious Life: How sound has shaped nations and made lives. From there, my interdisciplinary scholarly pursuits also led me to earn an MA in Critical Theory and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Kent, UK. My primary scholarly inquiry was into the nature of disembodiment in the contemporary West and its impact on ways of being, knowing, and self-ing in the world. My PhD is published as a book.
My professional path has toured me through training and experience in adult developmental psychology, Integral studies, group dynamics, organizational development, and conflict facilitation, as well as, psychedelic and somatic therapies.
In May 2019, on retreat with Dr. John Churchill and while in a deep state of absorption, I experienced a spontaneous Kundalini release. The release progressed into a full and uninterrupted Kundalini rising (culminating at Bindu in November 2021). Surrendering to the life-altering initiation and blessing of the Kundalini rising has afforded me tremendous spiritual development, purification, the continued release of the small self, and major life transformation in about two years. The rising also connected me directly to my true spiritual lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and (re)awakened many capacities of subtle sensing and perception, which are now my main pathways of supporting others and guiding my life.
I’m fortunate to have had the karma, upbringing, and teachers I’ve had along my path. When the Kundalini release and rising occurred, I knew how to work with it and deeply trusted my body and direct experience to navigate through it. In our modern Western fear-based and dis-embodied world, I recognize it is uncommon to have had 15+ years of spiritual, embodied, and meditative experience, plus deep self trust, ahead of an awakening like the one I experienced. This has meant I’ve been able to stabilize and continue the awakening process, as well as, uniquely support others inside of theirs. This is the path of service that has chosen me and I'm honored to give my life to it.
I write this and walk my path in deep gratitude to my teachers and mentors from the past two decades, who include John Churchill, Diane Musho Hamilton Roshi, Rob McNamara, Robin Powell, Reggie Ray, and Dorothy Rowe.
Om Ah Hum.
May all beings be free.
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