Michael Franti and his wife Sara have been quarantined in Bali at their Soul Shine yoga retreat since February. They have been shifting, pivoting with the rest of the world and staying creative and optimistic. “Stranded on a tropical island,” they have been following their family motto, “DO good and rock out wherever you are!”
Olivia Daane (OD): “What’s going on in your tropical homebase and how are you feeling?”
Michael Franti (MF): “Learning how to do things differently. Becoming full-time content creators. Building new aspects of our hotel so we are ready to have people there in a more meaningful way. Also just taking time to be with each other, our family. What Covid has done is to ask us all, “How am I showing up for my own health and wellness, my country, my planet?”
“Everything our family does was about creating connection with in-person experiences. That is what Do It For The Love was about and now we have had to do it virtually.”
Sara (SF): “We want to encourage people to tap into things to build resilience in your own life.
Before the pandemic Michael would say, “Wellness was just eating an organic salad and taking your weekly yoga class.” Now we realize Wellness is all-encompassing—mental, emotional, spiritual, physical health. We want to help build resilience in our own lives and those we touch with community-based music therapy programs. We are allowing ourselves to tap into creativity. I’m finding as a nurse who didn’t always use my creative side, that creative expression allows us to find words for emotions that we are feeling that we may not be able to speak. As we go through trials and tribulations we can use the creative space of music, art, poetry, nature to just feel that.”
MF: “We opened SoulShine in 2011. We’ve grown to 30 rooms, a farm to table restaurant and a yoga studio with a water slide that goes into the pool. Because why not! Our intention is to make wellness fun. People think wellness is drinking that stuff I don’t like to drink, doing stretches, a run. But when the pandemic hit, all of us shifted gears. Now if my immune system isn’t firing properly I could die or someone in my family could die. People want to come home from travel feeling better than before they left. Travel that creates a sense of transformation. [Experiences with] profound spiritual and emotional releases and to just have fun, dance, do something in nature that blows their mind.”
OD: “As a creative…have you been slowed down, sped up?”
MF: My creativity goes and flows. I try to grab it when it’s there. I’m writing tons of music, making tons of videos. You’ve got to find ways to open that door as a creative person. My best work comes from when things are challenging my heart in some way. The process of grieving or celebration and elation. Music is the sound of feelings. Poetry is putting words in an order that create emotions.”
OD: “What if Bali is out of your reach as a traveler and seeker? It seems you are casting a vision for what wellness means now. Reframing to make it accessible to everyone.”
SF: “In the past, Wellness was only available to a certain bracket. How do we make it available to everyone? Within smaller communities and using virtual tools. Michael says, everyone can be loved if you know their story. We don’t need to travel to hear people’s stories, we just need to listen to our neighbor.
MF: “To bridge the political divide, to create change socially, we need to be as good listeners as we are communicators. We all forget to listen to what others have to say. Through listening we can help find ways to steer the ship.”
Michael and Sara are using their personal vibration to inspire others. He encourages us to “show up in new ways” and explore a deeper kind of listening. His video ‘I’ve Got You,” is the perfect visual reference to the work he and Sara are doing on building the connection within their own personal dynamic and home. As an artist, he has to get quiet and still before he can find the words and rhythms to communicate and impact, to help make sense of life for himself and his audience. Now they offer Soulshine to give back that potential balance of mind, body, spirit that we all need to foster in order to give back to ourselves. To “do good and rock out wherever we are.” We don’t “steer a ship” overnight. Michael laughs as he explains,
Soulshine is a microcosm and catalyst to foster change and healing for the individual and the collective whole. Michael and Sara continue to lead by example and with love even if Do It For The Love has shifted.They are keeping their shining side up. Instead of pushing away our own emotions and truths and those of others who seem to be a world apart, each of us can choose to dig inward, explore outward as we add ideas and ingredients to our personal stew. That type of adventure in wellness leads to innovation, change and healing. Like any relationship, it’s the alchemy of trust.
On her playlist: Sara-Hakuna Matata