A Closer Look at Wake Up
Jonas: I guess you would call it the spirit, or source, or guide. I would say—this may sound incredibly blasphemous to some people—but we're all part of God. So I try to stay conscious and aware and treat other people as if they were God, as if they're me.
Oprah.com: How have your beliefs evolved since you started working on this film?
Jonas: One thing that came through to me is that I am not afraid of death. Consciousness, spirit, soul, whatever you want to call it, certainly survives. That was always, like for many of us, a huge fear of mine.
Mara: We're going to be afraid of things in life. I've learned to separate being afraid from being sort of nervous. That sounds like such a slight, little thing, but it can really make a huge difference in how you make choices in your life. For me, that's meant dropping the constant need to question Jonas and every single person he ever interviewed, and every single fan who comes up and talks to him.
Oprah.com: What was the process of coming to terms with your fears and doubts like?
Jonas: It's not an overnight thing. This took a lot of internal work and a lot of stumbling and struggling to see it. I think my biggest answers came when I quit looking outside and was able to sit alone with my thoughts and meditate and look inward. I make jokes about this. This could have been a really short film; I probably could have just meditated in my living room for a couple weeks, and that could have been it.
Mara: I guess it's a little bit of faith, but when I would be really confused or really skeptical, I was able to let it go because I remembered the first miracle I had, which was meeting Jonas, and [I remembered] how deeply I love this man. When you have that concrete base under your feet of loving somebody, you're like, "Okay, these little birds that are running around my head up here annoying me with these questions, I do not have to have an answer immediately—or have an answer at all."
Oprah.com: Mara, what advice would you give someone who doesn't have Jonas' ability to see things but who still wants to tap into her inner consciousness?
Mara: I think by simply asking the questions and being willing to go on the journey, and willing to be inquisitive and curious and explore, is enough nourishment to start to feed something on the inside of you that will start a connection with something bigger than yourself. It doesn't have to be this extraordinary firework kind of thing.
Jonas: I always emphasize that you could run a marathon and have that be your truth. You don't have to see spirits running through the living room to get to these places. Anyone can meditate. Anyone can pray.
Jonas: I met so many great people who helped point me in the right direction, but also it was up to me to arrive at that truth, and the only way I could do it was literally turning inside because those answers are in each and every one of us.
Mara: Pride can start to be an ugly thing sometimes within people. I feel like the danger zone is when you're setting out on this journey to find something bigger than yourself: The swamp areas that you can fall into are things like being too prideful about what you're doing. "Oh, look at me. I'm going out on this safari, this soul safari, and look at my amazing hat while I'm doing it."
Oprah.com: Mara, even though you don't see the same things Jonas does, you also have an awakening in the film when a Buddhist monk tells you what your name means. Can you two talk about that?
Jonas: It was beautiful. And almost kind of hilarious—I had worked for years and years to come to this place, and she had this shift eating a piece of pizza. It took five minutes, and it was very profound for her and very real.
Mara: A lot of people walking on this planet hike to the tops of the mountain seeking all of these answers, and then there are people who are like, "I don't really have a whole lot of questions, and I don't really need a whole lot of answers," and that's totally okay too. With my own awakening, you see in the film, I'm eating a piece of pizza, and all of a sudden, this lighthearted little joke takes this huge nosedive down into my heart and into my soul. So, it's okay if you don't feel that you need to go to the peak of the mountain in order to find exactly who you are. You might find it over a slice of pizza like I did.
Oprah.com: Do you live your lives differently since you've finished the movie?
Jonas: I have rituals. I meditate, but I don't wear robes or burn incense with 300 candles in the room. I just keep the spiritual at the core. It doesn't mean I talk about it all the time, because no one really wants to hear that constantly. But when something good or when something challenging comes up, I rely on the inner voice that I hear, instead of taking it personally. Anything that happens that we call bad, I understand that it's there to help push me forward, not to pull me back.
Mara: Internally, I feel more calm having this whirlwind of a spiritual experience. I find that life is just as hard. In the past year, I've lost my father. I've lost the family farm that I grew up on. I've lost my precious uncle. So much loss has happened in my life in the past year, and I've handled it. I never imagined what life would be like on this planet without having my father in it. But I'm finding that concrete base, and that love in the relationships that I've built up, because of Jonas, because of my new perspective. No matter how hard I feel life shaking me, that concrete base is still there.
Wake Up was directed by Jonas Elrod and Chloe Crespi and produced by Steve Hutensky. Learn more at WakeUptheFilm.com
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