Fierce Kindness: an Interview with Melanie Salvatore-August
by Mary Corbin / Photos Rafael August
YourBerkeley.com – April 2017
What to do in the midst of upheaval, uncertainty and change? Well, within the Berkeley and greater Bay Area community, people have taken to the streets, forged new coalitions and sought out like-minded support groups.
Local teacher and writer Melanie Salvatore-August offers us yet another outlet to grapple with an uncertain future and find our way back to solid ground. With her new book Fierce Kindness: Be a Positive Force for Change, the author offers guidance, inspiration and a go-to place to explore our feelings. Providing a daily dose of inspiration for keeping on track with our personal or public activism and sense of positive purpose in a changing world, Melanie shared some insights to the relevance of a book of this nature in this volatile time.
What inspired you to write this book at this particular time in your life?In my experience being able to change how you talk to yourself and shift into a self-compassionate mindset is quite challenging. Fierce Kindness is changing the inner conversation to ignite an inner power of compassion to align with your highest self, create your ideal life and be a force for positive change in the world.
Over the years through my own healing and witnessing others, I realized that many of us are really close to being in alignment with or having our ideal life yet there is just something small that is off which keeps us from enjoying what we have and moving deeper into our dream life. Our contentment is so close yet so far away.
It started to become clear to me that it was about being on the “right track” of sorts. If you are on the right track then you will connect to that contentment and fulfillment you are searching for and if you are on the wrong one then you won’t ever really get to it. Over many years the tracks began to unfold for me when I worked with students and in my own life. The exciting thing is that I could see in real time the process of transformation and healing shift. It was miraculous and awesome.
I wanted to share these life-changing, digestible and actionable tools to as many people as possible. Heal yourself and heal the world. The world needs each of us to be accountable for our kindness and have the courage to share it with others. For both me and my friend, the publisher Lisa McGuinness. it felt like now more than ever was the time for us to stand up and make a call of action. Fierce Kindness is this: powerful tools and a call to action to use them.
How has yoga and meditation informed your life and your work? I am paraphrasing Eckart Tolle who has been quoted as saying that our practice creates space or a break in our conditioned or regular thought patterns. In those brief spaces consciousness comes through. The more we open the space, the stronger the amount of consciousness emerges. In the book I call that feeling of consciousness the core self that resides in the love channel or track. I came to the practice in my early 20’s after a series of traumas and being in a dark cycle of anxiety and depression.
While being on the yoga mat, I would get a brief moment of relief in savasana (corpse pose) and then eventually the feeling would last till I got out the door of the yoga studio. As years went by it became easier and easier to recall that sense of peaceful contentment or consciousness until it became a state of being that I could access and hold for longer periods of time without getting on my mat or being in a special location.
Repetition is incredibly powerful. The more I attuned to my love channel the more I could return to it. Yoga, meditation, reading inspired texts, playing in nature, connecting genuinely while being in service to others, all these things have awakened me to be a much happier and productive person.
Who did you have in mind while writing the book? I am writing to those who believe in love and possibility yet feel it is difficult to have faith in it. I am speaking to good people who are simply utilizing outdated mental and emotional software and are ready for an upgrade. They are ready to love their life while standing up for what they believe and be a positive force for change in the world.
What do you like most about living in the Bay Area? The Bay Area is my ideal place to live. I love everything about it – the compassionate and progressive mindset of the people, the land and the weather.
What is your favorite thing to do / favorite place to go in Berkeley? Berkeley is one of my favorite areas to create a mini excursion. When I want to open up a new perspective and create a space inside of exploration and dreaming I will wander down the streets in the city center or Telegraph Ave. I love to hike around Tilden, ride the steam train or carousel with my little boys, walk College Avenue to grab a bite or go to Sweet Dreams for a toy or treat. What a blessed place of diversity and creative color that we have, I am thankful to live here!
What are your three favorite words? Inspire. Embody. Debacle. I don’t necessarily like an actual debacle yet I love how it feels to say the word – it makes me giggle.
Who has been a significant role model for you? Off the top of my head, family: my mother and father, my grandmother, my great grandmother who came through Ellis Island to start a new life here in the U.S. There are many others: Georgia O’Keefe. Oprah Winfrey. Mother Theresa. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Wayne Dyer, Amma and Elena Brower to name a few.
Can you share a short piece of infinite wisdom with our readers today? Let go or be dragged. Let go of what you think you are supposed to be in the world and follow your love, compassion and passion to what you genuinely are. Be steady in this love and ask yourself, “How may I serve? ”
Melanie Salvatore-August is the creator of Fierce Kindness, a movement of nonviolence and global consciousness shifting. She is also the author of Kitchen Yoga: Simple Home Practices to Transform Mind, Body and Life. In addition, she is a yoga and meditation teacher and mentor for Yogaworks, a CTA Yoga-Based Life Coach, a Reiki healer, lululemon Brand Ambassador and a mother to three little boys. For more information, visit her website.