Seane Corn: Tells the Truth about God, Love and Herself
By: Ko Im
I first met renowned yoga teacher Seane Corn at the Ahimsa Yoga and Music Festival in Hunter Mountain, New York. Her chakra class was grounded in strength. I basked in her sunny spirit, hoping we share lioness hair and a bright smile as we snapped a photo. I love the way she embodies self-confidence as a way to be completely present in your truth. She makes me want to do the work — with love. I was also wondering how truth evolved for her with her yoga practice through the years. In this interview, I learned to listen better as Seane shared so much more, including the story of unimaginable yet exciting self-discovery.
Q. What does truth mean to you. How does it materialize in your life?
My relationship to truth is similar to my relationship with God. I believe God is truth and love. That is the essence of beingness in which I strive for in all aspects of my life. How it manifests in my life is through my communication and actions, the choices I make, and my willingness to be self-responsible — looking at the ways my ego might have a particular agenda that might seem like truth, but it is not. So truth is an aspect of being that aligns us with our highest Self, and the ways in which we express ourselves within the physical world. Like everybody else, I struggle with, commit to, refine, take ownership of (truth). It’s an ongoing process to be willing to be vulnerable, honest and self-aware with yourself and then sharing that understanding with the world.
Q. You grew up in New Jersey. Did you have that conversation with God growing up?
I wasn’t raised with any religion, but what I picked up from friends and teachers was a lot of God-fearing. It seemed like there needed to be negotiations in order to be in relationship with God. That often meant deception/lying/ hiding the parts of me that were bad/naughty/ shameful. It seemed like you couldn’t be fully who you are; otherwise, you’d get punished, unless who you were was perfect. Which I was not. I rejected the notion of God for a very long time until my early 20s. It was then that I was able to understand that God exists within me and is the full expression of love. The more I aligned with my truth of being, the light and the shadow, and moved into a process of self-discovery, the more integrated I became. That integration of truth and love is the God that dwells within. It is not something to seek out. It is what gets discovered in time and with experience. That essence never judges, only supports and guides. That was when I was able to come into relationship with God — and to the truth of humanity, which is nuanced, complex and messy. That took years of reconciliation. Truth isn’t always pretty. Truth is not always glamorous. It’s raw. It’s very humbling and human.
Q. Off the Mat (a nonprofit which Seane co-founded to turn yoga practice into activist work) has now been around for 10 years. How do you illuminate the truth via OTM?
It’s hard to live in truth unless you're doing the inner work for yourself. To me, there is only one truth: that love is real, that love is the essence that connects us all as One. The way in which I awaken to the truth of my essence might look differently than the way someone else wakes up. What OTM teaches is to understand how wide and broad truth is for each soul on the path, but that its pathway, as long, individual, complex as it is, ultimately leads to love. OTM is an organizational arm within a value system (yoga) that is looking to create social change, from the inside out, and providing leadership skills to individuals interested in being a part of a movement to create a world that is free, fair, equal and safe for ALL.
Q. What’s something you learned about yourself recently?
That my understanding of (truth) matures, it changes. What was true for me at twenty has definitely evolved now that I’m in my fifties. It’s more forgiving, more open, less rigid. It’s an evolutionary process.
Probably the most significant thing that happened in 2017 that reframed my understanding, and invited me into a deeper relationship with truth, was discovering that my mother, in 1945, was conceived through artificial insemination, something that she was not aware of. My grandfather was not my biological grandfather. My biological grandfather, the sperm donor, was a high school principal in New York City who donated sperm to infertile Jewish couples. It forced me to have to re-evaluate my identity as a white, polish, Jewish woman. All this time, there was another reality that existed that deeply influenced me and my family, but only in the subconscious. My mother’s birth was secretive; it was an act of service and a rebellion. Perhaps that is why I have always fought for justice, why I loathe secrets, yet am always the secret keeper for friends and family. Perhaps that is where I get my rebellious nature. We also discovered that my mother, an only child, now has over 12 half-siblings also conceived through the same donor. It’s been incredible discovering genetic similarities (progressive outlook, toothy smiles, curious, open hearted, funny, curly hair). Discovering these truths answered so many questions we didn’t even realize we had. There are so many things that make sense now.
Finding out this truth is a gift to me and my family and I am thrilled about the discoveries that we will continue to uncover. It is a true blessing. Back then, artificial insemination was considered adultery in the Jewish community, and it was also more experiential. I can’t imagine what my grandparents went through to try to have my mother. I have so much compassion for the choice they made and feel incredible gratitude and joy to find all these new and wonderful people in my life who are my blood family. It has opened up a whole new level of exploration that will bring me to different truths about myself and my ancestry. So right now we are all like ‘oh, this just threw a wrench into our identity. Let’s deal with this truth and figure it out!’ Life is amazing like that.