We know our emotions greatly effect our overall well-being, but we aren't always in touch with our heart's true desires. Enter Danielle LaPorte — a poet, speaker, author, and creator of The Desire Map, a method that helps you identify how you really want to feel day to day.
In this conversation, she and Jeff discuss the nature of divinity, the importance of connection, and what it means to live from the heart. Danielle's Desire Map Course is FREE on onecommune.com from May 20-29. Sign up now!
Danielle: I learned to love myself unconditionally through that, my most brokenness. I learned to heal myself hatred with love, and I got connected to God through all of that. It's so humbling. I was stripped of all judgment. Now with people I'm just like, "Yeah, what's ... I see you, I love you. I see myself in you. I see you in me, even the worst parts, the best parts." Just while I'm here, like incarnated. I just want to be loving.
Jeff: Welcome to Commune, a global wellness community and online course platform featuring some of the world’s greatest teachers. We’re on a mission to inspire, heal, pass down wisdom, and bring the world closer together.
This is the Commune podcast, where each week we explore these ideas and practices to help us live healthy, connected, and purpose-filled lives. You can learn more about our courses, our community, and everything else we do at onecommune.com.
Danielle LaPorte believes everything is a matter of the heart.
She’s always been a poet, but after being a bartender, an apartment manager, and a nanny, Danielle went on to run her own publicity agency, and a future-studies think tank, studying trends for the likes of the Pentagon and the World Bank.
Today, she is the author of White Hot Truth: Clarity for keeping it real on your spiritual path, and The Fire Starter Sessions: A Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms, which also spun off into a coaching curriculum.
Her latest project, The Desire Map, is a book that has been translated into ten languages, a day planner, a Top 10 iTunes app, and a workshop and coaching program in more than 15 countries.
And most importantly (from my perspective at least), the Desire Map is now also available as a course on Commune. This is a super special collaboration where Danielle and her team came to the Commune Lab in Topanga and we filmed for a whole week together. Commune’s online Desire Map Course is the result. From May 20-29 we will be releasing the first ten parts of the course for FREE. Just go to onecommune.com to sign up. Starting next week we’ll also be airing selections from her course on the podcast.
The central teaching of the Desire Map is about discovering your Core Desired Feelings - how you want to feel most of the time—your most preferred states of being. Once you align with your Core Desired Feelings—every day, in all of your choices —you’ll be living and giving, with intention.
In this interview, I sat down with Danielle to get some spiritual perspective on what it means to move and live from the heart, and how, in order to experience joy and light, we must also acknowledge the shadow side of life.
I’m your host Jeff Krasno, and welcome to Commune.
Jeff: I know the story about how Desire Map began, or I've heard you tell it where you're sitting there on New Year's Eve and you're writing your big plans for the next year, right?
Jeff: Then all of a sudden you look at that and it looks kind of transactional. It looks maybe not too inspired. It looks more like a to-do list.
Danielle: To-do list.
Jeff: Yeah. That gave you that initial spark of like, "Wait a minute, there's going to be something more, something more inspired to live for," and that kind of gave birth to this whole thing.
Danielle: Then it took off and it's been five years and I feel like I just recently figured out what I was really about.
Danielle: Yeah, I mean, no one's getting their money back but-
Jeff: Damn it.
Danielle: It's a lot better now, more meaningful.
Jeff: Yeah. So what is that? What does that evolution look like?
Danielle: Well, I think even with the concept of being clear on how you want to feel and doing whatever it takes to feel that way, I still thought I have to purify my mind. I have to cleanse. I have to purge. I have to practice and I still kind of I lean towards the mental.
Then this is my conclusion now for myself, I don't know if it works for everybody else, I think if you want to get to God, to fulfillment, you will have to go through the heart. You can [Ashram] it out. I'm going to just be so bold as to say you could many lifetimes just sitting in Lotus and until your heart is broken, you just aren't going to get there. Yeah.
Jeff: Do you use that word God?
Danielle: More than I used to.
Jeff: Yeah, me too.
Danielle: I'm less apologetic about it.
Jeff: What does that mean for you?
Danielle: I want to be really inclusive when I use the term. If I can't be in a room with people who have some flexibility around the word God, we're probably not a match, right? Just have done enough work that you can adopt it for yourself. God really makes things easier.
Jeff: You want to God very inclusively and so do I.
Jeff: But there is also this sort of institutional God out there.
Danielle: There is.
Jeff: I use out there.
Danielle: Yes. Thank you, religious.
Jeff: As on purpose, yeah. Of that God is this something, is something to be worshiped that is outside of you. That is something that is separate from you. For me, that reinforces this notion of living, of disconnectedness from your spirit and emphasizes one's proclivity to live from the ego.
Danielle: Yes, it's performance based.
Jeff: So while I want to be cool with this expansive no definition of God, I look at the institutional religions way of treating God and I'm like, "Ah, I don't know." But I also want to respect people's upbringing and their traditions.
Danielle: Which is why if I have a microphone or I'm on stage, I say, God, life, spirit, father, mother, God, whatever works for you. I'm just going to let you know that I'm just going to use God right now. It's taken me a long time to use God and really feel it. I felt life, I felt God, I made my departure. I was like, "I'm just going to worship the divine mother for awhile. I'm just going to call it spirit," because Catholicism did a number on me big time and it wasn't until the last couple of years that I really got it.
I went to Catholic grade school and Catholic high school, but still, even in my most still moments, I felt like there was a male authority figure and it was and he was dividing everything up into good and bad.
Danielle: It wasn't until, I mean it's such a homecoming story, right, until I super, super crashed where I was just like, "Oh, it's all church."
Jeff: What was that super crash?
Danielle: Well, the end of it was it was a rebirth process. I'm still looking for a label for it so I can explain it. It wasn't a nervous breakdown, but it was close. I had full control of my faculties. I was in touch with reality, but I was falling apart completely. I've identity shattered, waking up with suicidal thinking. One point I found myself in the ER asking for anti-anxiety medication. Everything was new to me, not wanting to be alone. I had never experienced any of those kinds of things before in my life.
Jeff: Did you have someone to go to?
Danielle: Yeah, I had my inner circle of girlfriends. I also lost a lot of friends last year and relationships shifted. So I really, there was sort of this kind of clearing of the decks and then when I was in crisis mode, you really see who's gone to their own depths and who can meet you there, and not everybody can, but it doesn't mean they're not still on the deep friend list. But I had a great, still have a great psychologist. I have what I would call an energy worker, a spiritual counselor. That was the team.
Jeff: Do you think people need to have that team, need to build that infrastructure?
Danielle: Yeah. Yeah. I think you die without it. I think you'll die a spiritual death, a psychological death. Who wants to die alone? But, oh, it was relationships that healed me for sure.
Jeff: Did that change the way that you thought about spirituality? I say it this way because there's this notion that we are all on an individual path. This spiritual path is something that belongs just to kind of us and us alone. Like God has no grandchildren. My relationship is direct. I read this thing, this quote that Brene Brown wrote and I'll totally butcher it, but I'll get the point across, which is that spirituality is recognizing that we are all connected to each other by a power that is greater than us.
It really shifted my thinking of the spiritual path from something that is individual to something that is actually communal and connected. Did that shift for you when you had to lean in to your community?
Danielle: Hundred percent. My experiences was that I didn't want to be alone. This is coming from someone, I identify as an introvert. I love it when I have no voicemail. My favorite thing is home alone and with my kid, but solitude is totally my jam. I was at a point, I was calling up friends in the morning and just saying, "Can I just come and work in your space today? I'll just sit there in the corner and be quiet, but I can't be alone." So there was that. But also, at the bottom of the brokenness where you go down and you're feeling crazy, but all your wisdom is there and all your love and all your acceptance and I mean, these are big words, but I just felt like oneness.
All the compassion I had to muster for myself... I learned to love myself unconditionally through that, my most brokenness. I learned to heal myself hatred with love, and I got connected to God through all of that. It's so humbling. I was stripped of all judgment. Now with people I'm just like, "Yeah, what's ... I see you, I love you. I see myself in you. I see you in me, even the worst parts, the best parts." Just while I'm here, like incarnated. I just want to be loving. Yeah.
Jeff: So about judgment because they think this is something that is one of the greatest barriers for us to recognize our highest potential or self actualize is the fear of judgment.
Danielle: Of not being liked. It's really simple.
Danielle: I want to be liked. Yeah.
Jeff: Is that okay? Because if I can leave my little self outside the door there, then I don't care what anyone thinks of me because I am not what anyone thinks of me. I'm not what I have. I'm not what I do. I'm not my resume. I'm not how much money I have. I'm not what I make every year. I'm not in competition with others. I'm not separate from God. I'm not separate from other people. That's my little self. I left him outside the door. So why do I care what people think of me?
Danielle: Because you're human and we are separate because we're living in divided existence. We're in these little suitcases called bodies. We're not in a constant state of oneness. It hurts. It hurts and to be misunderstood, to have think a lie about you and really the big lie is when we think we're not one and we think we're not divine. It's like you think I'm not divine. You think I'm not loved. Ouch. I know I am. Let me just keep reinforcing. I know I am love. I cannot judge you. I think the answer is both. I think I'm always going to have an ego. I'm not aiming for enlightenment this lifetime. I mean, I do want to die just by sitting under a tree and then just kind of floating off into the cosmos. I want to have an intentional death.
But I'm okay with caring what people think. It's just it's on a spectrum, how much do I care? Right. I think part of caring what they think is it's like an act. It's part of loving yourself. I want to be as loving as possible. I want to communicate as clearly as possible. I want to get the point of myself across. If you think otherwise, I should consider how good I'm doing at the love thing. You might have something to say to me about how I could polish that up. So it does matter.
Jeff: So you're a mom and-
Danielle: I'm a mom, yeah.
Jeff: What are the lessons that you, because oftentimes, we look at our children and it helps us to codify who we are at our best self.
Jeff: So what are those lessons?
Danielle: I think I am at my most godly, loving, compassionate when I'm with my kid and I actually translated my best mothering self into helping me understand how God must regard me. Like, for instance, I may be tested, but I'm pretty convinced right now I love my child unconditionally.
If he needs me to listen to him, I may not be resentment free, but if he needs an hour of listening I'll give him all day. If he wants one hug, he gets 10. I only want the best for him. This was the big aha for me in terms of how creation wants to hold me. If I could suffer for him, if I could spare him of pain, I would do it. I know he's going to grow from it. I know he's got to go through his lessons, but not only would I suffer for him, I think I would do it joyfully. And maybe I'm giving myself way too much credit, but at least that's my inclination. If that's my inclination as a little human, who is taking care of a child, just imagine how the cosmos just wants ... Yeah. The lessons collided for me.
That's my way of loving and sometimes it's aspirational and sometimes it's reality. In our house, there's no shame. There's no shaming. This may be a bit judgmental, but I remember ... I think we've all seen this scene. You know, you're in a department store and the kid's crying and the parent wants to go. And, the parent says, "I'm leaving." That's a lie, and it's such a mind-fuck to a little mind. So, I try to never do that kind of game play stuff. It's just like, "We need to go," instead of, "I'm going to abandon you."
I was thinking about how, with my son, he's 15. I actually love when he brings me his pain, and I can help alleviate it I feel like more of me, I feel more lit up, I feel more powerful. I was at a workshop in Taos, New Mexico.
And, I was really moving towards my unraveling phase. I came out of this session I'd had with a shaman and my psychologist, Ann, was there. She just took one look at me and I looked at her. It was like I was not okay. She took me down to the river and just let me cry, put her hand on my back, the way a friend knows to do. And then, I got into the river by myself. Freezing cold. Big damn deal for me because everything's about being warm. I just realized there is this pain. This gets back to your point about the solitude of your journey, your own individual spirituality. I thought, "Wow, there's this pain that nobody can help me with." Nobody. It's the fucking worst. Not your best friend, not your lover, not your psychologist who knows everything, not even the shaman could touch it. I wanted to die. For me, it was agony. I felt so bleak.
I realized a lot about pain, that really so much of pain is the expectation, the feared expectation that it's going to continue. If I could just be with it, it will go faster. I mean, I was really baptizing myself in this cold water. I just became aware. I mean, I could be wrong, but God wants my pain. The only place to put that level of pain was upward. I just ... I didn't even feel ... Like, the depth of my perceived unworthiness was, I didn't even feel worthy enough to give my pain to God. I'm really over simplifying this, but like, "Sorry to bother you but I'm in agony, dear creator of all things." Right?
II believe that pain is density in the flow. It's like this illusion that gets caked and baked and it blocks us from the true reality. It's like every pain point is just like this log. Life is the fire, just like throw your log of pain on the fire. That's creation. It just turns into truth, turns into truth. Give me your lies so I can make it truth. So, just like I say to my kid, "Tell me your story so we can figure out what's real in this, so we can figure out what to do next."
So, now I just give it up. I never got what that meant. I mean, in my whole rebirth, there's all these isms that I've even been talking about. I have made money off of these isms, and I didn't fully get them, on a cellular level. One of them was, "Just give your pain to God." I had no ... I didn't get what that meant. Now, I do.
Jeff: Now, you do.
Jeff: We feel like we're accumulating tools, you know, over the course of our life, right?
Danielle: It's heavy. It's a lot of tools. Yeah.
Jeff: And then, all of a sudden, here we are maybe halfway through our output. Something knocks us on our ass. We're supposed to be the teachers. You are. I'm sort of a torchbearer for the teachers. But, we're never beyond getting knocked on our ass, I guess, right?
Danielle: Never. And, you never see the crucifixion coming. That's the nature of it.
Jeff: And then, those things can be your greatest teacher, or they can take you down.
Danielle: I think both happens.
Danielle: Yeah, but I do think we don't have to suffer. I struggled with this one for a long time. Suffering is the way, the pain is the power. I think it's a given. If you're here on the material plane, you're going to have pain.
I think it's inevitable, but I don't think it's necessary. It sounds contradictory. I don't think we have to suffer as much, and this is the power of you being the torchbearer and of me telling my story and somebody else telling their story. It's like we really are in this together. I can help you with your learning curve, but you have to be open to it.
This is another benefit of what I've been through. This is an irony because I'm so much my own guru now. I'm also so much more open to other peoples' teachings. Now that I've had my own acute suffering, wow, I really believe in other peoples' suffering. I believe their stories. I think it's a lack of judgment. Because I carry less judgment now, I'm able to see more people as teachers. Yeah.
Jeff: Why do you think people resonate with you so deeply? What is that connectivity, that spark, that you have that motivates so many people?
Danielle: I am really honest, even in my arrogance. I call it the days of arrogance. I was still being really truthful about what I was going through. I'm pretty good at being real. That's magnetic. I think we crave it in everybody. I just ... Even coming up here. Everybody listening, we're on the grounds of commune in Topanga. It really is this beautiful community of business and-
Danielle: And great weirdos. We're all trying to serve. But even the first night here, it's like this cradle of love and after ... You know, we have this community dinner and I'm just really aware of like, "Oh, I just really want to connect with everybody." It's this really ... It's intense for me. I just want the real story. It's not even that I'm committed to being real. It's just really painful for me to be otherwise. If I have been insincere in a situation, I really feel it.
Jeff: Are there practices that you go back to every day?
Jeff: What do you do?
Danielle: Well, I breathe. And now ... this is another thing I used to think I knew about, but I didn't get until recently. The breath, the breath, the breath. There were days when I realize that was all that was keeping me connected to something more meaningful. So now, I just, deep breath and I say "Hello, God," and I exhale and I say "I'm here." That's it. That's like medicine. I'm glad that you asked because I've created a new practice that we've just spent a week producing and filming up here called the Heart centering Practice. It's really ... like I consider myself a spiritual mutt. I'm cultural mutt. I'm a bit like French Canadian. I'm a bit indigenous. I'm a bit white, a little bit brown. I'm a bit Buddhist. I'm a hungover Catholic. I'm super Woo.
That's what the Heart Centering Practice is. Its a reflection of that. All my focus now in my life and maybe for the rest of my life is the heart. I feel like I've finally gotten clear and why, for me, yoga breathing, some yogic breathing, has not worked for me. I have to breathe into my heart. I don't want it to breathe into y belly. You technically can't breathe into your belly. You fill your lungs up first. So you do some heart breathing. You ask yourself how you're feeling.
My experience has been when I ask myself everyday how I'm feeling, all the negative stuff is up first, and this is a great lesson on keep going with the inquiry. Don't stop there 'cause underneath all that shadowy stuff, then I hear myself say "Oh, I actually feel really calm right now. I feel so grateful. I feel so joyful. I feel so powerful." And then you move into gratitude. Once you're in the heart, it's so easy to access, but really don't make it an intellectual exercise. Bask, marinate in the gratitude. And then I think that has you ... what's the word? Plied. You're lubed up enough, basically, at that point, that you can feel your presence.
Danielle: And so you become aware of your presence and then you bring into your heart your core desired feelings. And even if you haven't identified them and been through desire map and all of that, just like how do you want to be feeling? And then I think that desired feeling comes with a message. All the time. Every desire has its fulfillment encoded in it.
And you ask your core desired feeling for a symbol or a message. Oh, and also before that, you bring in ... and this is really my secret sauce. You bring in color into your heart with the feelings. The quick learning there, lesson, is color is like the encapsulation of energy. So red has a certain frequency. It has an emotion. We all can relate to like ... pink has an emotion with it. It's even more than that. So you bring in some pinks and some whites and some golds because those are particular frequencies of love and clarity.
Your core desired feeling gives you a cue and then you make a commitment to yourself in that moment that you're going to act on that. Yeah, and you take an encouraging thought and commit, give thanks. Always wrap with thanks. Everything. And out you go.
And I do that now. That's my own medicine. And I do it definitely in the mornings and throughout the day when I'm feeling anything but my core desired feelings.
Jeff: And so it's like about aligning.
Danielle: Yeah. It's got to be practical. It's got to work in everyday life. If you can't use it in the middle of an argument with your dude or when your kid is testing you or in a traffic jam, it's not useful to me. It has to apply to a traffic jam and transcendence. That's my metric.
Jeff: So what do you think is like the most salient issue of our modern, human condition? What do we need to solve here?
Danielle: Loneliness. Loneliness is almost like a pop culture term for separation from the divine. I think we all just want to go home, and we're looking for home in the ... it's like dopamine is the doorway to that. I think we ... if we don't keep it in check, we just ... I think a lot of us are feeling abandoned by God.
Danielle: Yeah. Loneliness.
Jeff: Is your calling here on Earth to address the problem of loneliness?
Danielle: Yes. I would never have put it that way. I think what I know ... these are my terms for it. I want to help alleviate suffering, and I want to amplify joy. And I think joy is the experience of you face you God self, you will feel joy. So just like let's get back to the truth of it. You're good. You're good no matter what. Even the most evil of us, the most evil amongst us, I think, wants to go home, wants to return to the light. Therefore, I think we're all getting back to the same place. It's going to take eons.
Jeff: Is everyone, even the most evil amongst us, are they all deserved of that grace?
Danielle: Absolutely. Why not? Why not? I mean, that would ... why not? Right now, I'm thinking "We're all God's children."
Danielle: I'm thinking "We all come from the same source."
I think, we learn through contrast. It's like we're going to learn about our wholeness by being in these separate bodies. We're going to learn about love through hate. We learn about joy through pain, you working through your suffering, thank you. It helps me. You being in your joy, huge service to humanity. Yeah. I'm struggling with my joy. Yeah.
Jeff: So when you now look out ... you actually. You don't like 10 year plans, do you?
Danielle: I think 10 year plans are just-
Danielle: Absurd. Yeah. Look. Look at both of us. We know our stories. Did you think you'd be here 10 years ago? My life looks nothing, nothing ... I was supposed to be doing all these other things. I was going to be way further along, just way further along at everything.
Danielle: Oh, yeah. God! By now, I should've won an Oscar for a documentary. Haven't even made a documentary. It's not what I do.
Jeff: That's not fair. That doesn't even count.
Danielle: But look how far behind I am. Yeah. I thought I would have to children. I thought I would be with like the beloved. I want to die with my person. I thought my house would be paid off. Just all these other things. But, this is a word I've just started to use this year because I never believed it before, but there's a lot of bliss in my life. It's way better than I could've scripted. Yeah. There's some things I still really want, but this is ... I'm right where I'm supposed to be. I'm right on time.
Jeff: You're right on time.
Jeff: The heart knows how to find joy even in suffering, but it is our personal task to embark on this journey of discovery - to find and listen to the wisdom held deep within our hearts.
Danielle’s work is about getting clear about how we want to feel, and finding our own unique, heart-centered approach to living.
The Desire Map course will be running free on Commune from May 20-29. In the meantime, you can head over to onecommune.com to learn more. And starting next week, we’ll be airing daily excerpts right here on the podcast, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss them.
Thank you for listening to the Commune podcast. If you like what we do, please share us with a friend, or better yet: leave us a review, to help other people discover Commune, too.
That’s all for now! I’m your host Jeff Krasno, and I’ll see you next time.