Story by Lia Aprile and Photography by Claudia Lucia
I have always been taken by Mari Orkenyi’s spirit, warmth and authenticity. She and I were introduced by a mutual friend several years ago, and not only did we become fast friends, now our husbands and kids are friends as well. I love when that all works out! I can not say enough good about Mari: she is a lovely friend, a strong mother and a woman who embodies spiritual aspiration. Just being around her reminds me to take a deep breath, take my time, and be myself.
- Rachel Pally
You started out as a creative consultant and had a background in events and marketing. Can you tell me how you transitioned to teaching meditation full time?
I always clearly understood that I wanted to be doing work with a purpose. I knew very early on that I wanted to serve. But when I was younger, I didn’t know exactly in what shape and form. I always had a very intimate relationship with the arts. I was a dancer. There were so many different passions in me...
Also, my parents are spiritual teachers and healers. So, I had a different kind of upbringing, because those teachings were presented to me really early on.
It was just part of our life. They never institutionalized these teachings for us. But it was always available. It was the foundation. And I knew very early on what it was to sit and really pray, what is the relationship with the universe, with God, and how it was to sit in meditation. I had this information that everything is a continuation, and we are not just our bodies. It was in me very early on.
I have two young kids, and my husband and I talk about this a lot – how do you create a space for them to ask the big questions?
It’s pretty special. My parents did it in such a natural way. Neither my brother nor me rebelled against it. We were never compelled to do anything. It was always an invitation. “Hey, we’re going to do the prayer. You guys want?” They never assumed.
I remember seeing my parents leave the house wearing all white and thinking, “Wow, that’s cool.” And then I also saw the progression. My dad, for example – how he changed with time, how he was working on himself. And just seeing my mom’s face, how she did her prayers and her mantras.
Artists often struggle with turning their work into a business. It seems the same would be true of spiritual work: that the economics could be at odds with the work. How do you balance that?
I’m learning as I go. You have to have an idea of what you’re doing and how you’re putting yourself out there: what works, and what doesn’t. It is, essentially, a business. And we are in an era now where we need people doing spiritual work, full-time. And that’s okay. It’s not a bad thing that people pay to learn how to meditate. It means that I can do more. I can sit down and create different offerings, or be able to give back to people that can’t afford it but still need the help. That’s how I’m trying to structure it, in my head. It’s like running any other business. You have to be aware of how you present yourself. Especially here in Los Angeles, because “Wellness” is a billion dollar industry!
I’m just trying to stay true to myself and navigate it all smartly. And I don’t divide things. It’s not like career, motherhood, family. It’s all together, and it’s all spiritual because that’s what we are.
How do you define your personal style?
Oh, man. I don’t know. I’m very netural, classic. Between you and me, I have zero desire for shopping! It doesn’t move me. So, I try to stay classic, neutral...with just a few pieces. And that’s how I go around.
Have you always been that way?
I remember my mom would take me shopping, and I would always pick out white, beige, or black. That’s just how I am. You’ll see it in my house, too. I think it also has something to do with the work that I do. Because if anything is too much, it starts to overwhelm me.
Well, you’re very “in” right now with white, beige and black.
Yeah, I know. I really don’t know what’s going to happen when that trend goes away!
Has there been anything that’s changed about your style since becoming a mother?
I’m wearing more comfortable pants and fewer jeans. I’m also slowly taking bras out. And I’m feeling so much better. I think that also came with the breastfeeding, because you have to have such easy access.
Every time I see someone else not wearing a bra, I think, “That looks so good! There’s nothing weird about that.” But every time I do it, I think, “I’m naked!”
It’s just so much more free. I haven’t mastered it yet, but I want to get there...
Anything you’ve been loving wearing lately?
I love the new Rachel Pally line! During the photo shoot I got to wear some of her new linen pieces. They’re so beautiful and comfy and flowy. And her jumpers. I always love her jumpers. They’re elegant and super practical. It’s the new gym clothes for me. I try to take off the gym clothes and put on a jumper!
Do you have thoughts on social media? Good or bad.
There’s this phrase: “If you can’t fight the media, be the media.”
Most of the time when you’re navigating social media, you’re navigating it with your subconscious mind, which is your most reactive mind. That’s why we are always so down when we go through it, because we are not being aware. We are not using our best attention. We’re not going through it thinking, “Oh, I see this person, and I send her a lot of light.” And, “Oh, look how beautiful!” No. We’re using the opposite mind, the one that has baggage, and memories, and emotions, and habits, and patterns. So, you need to be very aware of what your mind is doing when you’re navigating it. Or you can get caught in the cycle.
I read something you posted recently where you talked about “magnetism.” Can you tell me how you define magnetism?
Magnetism is when you’re standing in your true self. It’s when you’re in the flow. You can feel this magnetism in little moments. If you love to cook: when you’re cooking and you feel so energetic, that’s magnetism. If you go for a bike ride, and you feel the air and you see the scene...that’s magnetism. It’s when you’re so in a flow that you just feel centered in your self. Not in the little self, not in the body, but in your higher self.
It’s not easy to access, but when you feel like you’re sitting well with yourself: that’s when you are magnetic.
We’ve all felt this throughout life in glimpses. It’s just a matter of becoming more conscious, so it’s not just little glimpses...it’s a constant flow. Meditation helps because when you’re meditating, you’re attuning yourself with that higher part of your mind. You’re giving space to that part of your mind, so it can come forward and you can put aside the self-conscious mind.
It’s interesting that the thing that makes a person most magnetic to other people is not worrying about how magnetic you are to other people!
Exactly. You’re so in your own flow that you’re not looking at anyone else. Except to look at other people and recognize in them a continuation of yourself.