The ‘Bionic’ Actress Embraces a Natural Life
And Integrative Thinking
By Allan Richter
Years before she achieved television superstardom in “The Bionic Woman,” Lindsay Wagner discovered what would become a lifelong passion for holistic health. When Wagner was 19, her boyfriend’s mother was personal secretary to the Rev. William H.D. Hornaday, who embodied the positive-thinking Religious Science movement. Hornaday and Ernest Holmes, whose metaphysical Science of Mind teachings shaped Hornaday’s church, intervened when Wagner was to undergo surgery for ulcers.
Hornaday’s ministry encouraged a kind of introspection that didn’t necessarily assign blame but examined how somone might be contributing to his or her illness, physical or otherwise, via thoughts and actions. “If in fact we are involved in it somehow,” says Wagner, now 64, “that’s very powerful because we then understand that we can also be involved in our healing and opening to a new way of being.”
Wagner skipped the surgery, and she says in six weeks she no longer had her ulcers. The experience launched a decades-long study of Eastern and Western healing practices that have culminated in a series of “Quiet the Mind & Open the Heart” workshops and retreats that Wagner offers. Along the way, the former model found fame in “The Bionic Woman” and a number of film projects that addressed social justice issues—the reason Wagner says she became an actor in the first place.
Wagner spoke to us from her home in the Los Angeles mountains about how she has brought peace and calm into her life.
Energy Times: Tell me about how the experience with your ulcers at age 19 was so powerful that it prompted decades of study into related areas.
Lindsay Wagner: It was so amazing to me that I just wanted to know more. I want to know all this stuff that I’m not being taught in my kind of average mainstream environment. So it began a lifetime study of various cultures, forms of healing, some metaphysics, things that weren’t being done in the US, such as biofeedback and acupuncture. We used to call it holistic, then it went to alternative. Now it’s integrated therapies, which I’m really pleased to see people embracing.
I’ve studied with some Tibetan Buddhists. There’s somewhat of a Hindu tradition that I’ve been working with lately, Oneness Diksha. That’s one of the techniques I’ve started integrating into the work that I do. I teach EFT [Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as tapping]. A lot of practitioners are working with EFT. It’s a process one can easily learn to do for oneself. It’s very effective, and very quickly effective, too. The combination of the two is really quite wonderful.
There’s tons of stuff I’ve learned over 40 years, but I’ve taken the things that I felt were really complementary to each other and that are easy for people to absorb. They are things that helped me the most.
ET: How have these techniques helped you?
LW: It’s across the board, in all circumstances of life. It’s just a general sense of more peacefulness and being less reactive or triggered by the outside world, whether it’s family or strangers. You find yourself being more peaceful and having fewer negative kneejerk reactions with some response that flies out of our mouth, even if people hurt us. They don’t hurt us because they necessarily want to. They’re suffering and lashing out, so when we have a reaction of being angry because they got angry at us, that just fuels the fire.
If we add negativity to negativity, then the future created in this relationship, and within ourselves, is just more negativity. We get programmed with a lot of this stuff. We can figure out how to clip those tethers that keep us emotionally connected to these thoughts.
Compassion can be the response to the same stimuli. Negative responses are stuck in our energy field. They can literally be cleared out. So we need to take responsibility for ourselves. It’s exactly why I’ve chosen these techniques.
ET: Can you give me an example of how you’ve applied these?
LW: A family member who often talks negative about a lot of people used to bring up a real discomfort in me. Sometimes I clenched my stomach. I didn’t necessarily experience anger, but just a very unpleasant feeling inside, and I didn’t want to hear it. Or I would find myself trying to defend that person my family member was talking about.
I didn’t realize I was making that worse. This family member was expressing pain in a very uncompassionate way about the way somebody else is. By getting upset with this person I was judging him being that way; that’s what was upsetting me.
If you can move into compassion for that person and see what they’re acting out as suffering, as opposed to something they’re being wrong about, you can see what’s really happening.
The more you do that, the more you start clearing out your reactive pattern to that kind of behavior. When you do that, you give off a different frequency. That’s important to understand, that all of this is about frequency and the interaction of energy.
ET: How has your relationship with this family member changed?
LW: It’s fantastic. It doesn’t bother me anymore.
Here’s something that is very personal to me that doesn’t involve family but involves the whole fan phenomenon. When I first lost my anonymity and got famous, I was not able to walk down the street, to go to the grocery store, to be anywhere without constantly being stopped.
ET: And you were probably asked to bend a parking meter into a pretzel.
LW: Yeah, after the autograph. But I realized very early on after “The Bionic Woman” became such a huge thing that I couldn’t go anywhere. I would hardly go to the store. I would stay home all the time and realized I just couldn’t live my life like that.
It wasn’t all the time. It was just sometimes. It was too much some night when I was out with my husband or kids, and I didn’t want to sign anything right then. People forget, they don’t realize. They didn’t see anybody else come up to me in the restaurant and didn’t realize I had five other people do it going to the store and two others coming in the door. I know they’re very innocently and joyfully coming up to me.
I realized that what was upsetting to me more than anything was that I felt trapped. I felt like I didn’t have the right to say no and hurt their feelings and have them think bad of me, so I was constantly hurting myself by not honoring what I needed. But I realized it’s not too much to ask to have that moment for myself and say no in a nice way. I said I have to get over that fear and that it was okay.
As soon as I did that, I felt this release. I said to myself what I would say to anybody else. Sometimes if you counsel yourself the way you would counsel your children, you would be so much better off. So I would say, “I’m sorry, I’m with my family right now.” And they would say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I just love your work,” walk away, and everything would be fine.
The stuff about how I was going to be a bad person if I turned down an autograph was not in their mind, it was all in my mind. And I started having fun with it. Sometimes I would say, “The truth is I’d rather give you a hug because signing a piece of paper feels really cold to me.”
ET: Is there a particular technique that helped you do that?
LW: In that particular instance it was just recognizing the issue. Sometimes if we just recognize what we are doing, that’s enough. The energy will start to shift. We can have a shift by really deeply looking at ourselves. Sometimes patterns are tied to a lot of historical pain, and sometimes things don’t shift so easily. That’s where these techniques come in.
ET: You’ve written a vegetarian cookbook. Are you still a vegetarian?
LW: I have been a vegetarian most of my life. Once in a while I have gotten back to eating a little fish if my body is ailing for some reason, or sometimes if I travel and I can’t eat a proper well-rounded vegetarian diet. That can be in Middle America, in a little dinky town where you can’t find a health food store or vegetarian restaurant. If you go to the Orient you can go vegetarian much easier. Some Third World countries have a lot more vegetarian options than the US. We forget when we live in Los Angeles or New York, some of these more progressive multicultural cities on these issues.
ET: So when you stray from the vegetarian diet, it’s only for fish?
LW: Usually. Sometimes I have eaten lamb because it’s really the cleanest meat. They don’t have to pump them full of all the gunk because they fatten up just fine on their own.
ET: Do you take supplements?
LW: When I need them, yes. When I’m not feeling great I go to my naturopath and she tests me and sees which support I need. Sometimes it’s vitamins, sometimes it’s herbs. Sometimes it’s a combination. I take probiotics regardless of whether I’m taking other things or not. I do take B12 most of the time, because being vegetarian you can sometimes miss that.
ET: What exercises do you do to stay fit?
LW: I must confess that’s my weakest link. I do a lot of meditation, so a lot of the time other people spend running around I spend “running around” inside. But it also has a lot of the same results. When people take my blood pressure, usually they ask, “Are you a runner?” A lot of meditation can really help certain body systems. But as far as cardio and that kind of thing, I walk my dog a lot. We live in the mountains, so I do a lot of walking.
ET: Tell me about acupressure, which you wrote a book about.
LW: That’s was something I co-authored with an acupuncturist years ago. It’s acupressure to rejuvenate the face. We did this many years ago, when facelifts were becoming really popular. I was hoping to help people have the discipline to do acupressure and avoid surgery.
Just as in reflexology we have points on our feet [through which energy can be manipulated], we have points on our face. It will affect your skin and relax you, relax the muscles in your face.
ET: What differentiates your meditation CD, “Open to Oneness,” from other meditation CDs?
LW: I went into meditation for about a half an hour. Then I started calling upon or projecting this energy, the diksha, the flow of that loving transformative energy, and letting it flow through me as I was recording the words in the beginning of the CD, which are very simple words. It’s just kind of a call to our higher self: “I open to oneness, to causeless peace, joy, creativity, health and unconditional love, and I am grateful, I am grateful, I am grateful.” These are all words that really stimulate very high frequencies in us.
And I say that three times in the beginning of the CD, and then I was giving the composer I worked with the diksha, as we say, sending him the energy while he was composing this music. So when anyone would listen to this music they would hopefully feel this loving energy, and it would help them relax and get more in tune with their higher potential. It’s more than just relaxing.
ET: I remember watching one of your movies, “Evil in Clear River,” and thinking, “Good for Lindsay Wagner for taking this role.” You’ve done a number of films that have powerful messages and bring attention to issues that need attention: spousal abuse, domestic violence, racism. What brought you to these topical projects?
LW: That’s actually why I got into the business. I see this entertainment business as a very powerful communication tool. When I had my experience at 19, learning how much more amazing humans are, and started learning more about that, I was simultaneously getting involved in acting. I realized what a wonderful vehicle that could be for communicating to people without sacrificing entertainment, that we can transcend our circumstances rather than just survive them, therein creating hopefully a better future for the next generation.
That was my passion about the business, much more so than the acting part of it. The acting was my vehicle, but my passion was in filmmaking and bringing my visibility to projects that could entertain and bring something to people. It was to help other people see themselves differently and see each other differently and hopefully accomplish something.
PECAN HERB LOAF – Serves six
This great alternative to meatloaf has the taste and the texture to
satisfy the fussiest meatloaf maven. Make enough for leftovers because it's delicious
served cold on sandwiches or crumbled in pita bread.
½ onion, finely chopped
1 tsp cold-pressed olive oil
8 medium mushrooms, finely chopped
6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup chopped almonds
¼ cup chia seeds (or ½ cup hulled sesame seeds)
2 tblsp raw soy flour
2 tblsp arrowroot powder
4 tblsp nutritional yeast
1½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp basil
¼ tsp oregano
¼ tsp savory
¾ tsp garlic powder
20 oz. firm Chinese tofu
5 tblsp raw tahini
½ onion, finely chopped
1 tblsp cold-pressed olive oil
2 14-oz cans chopped tomatoes
½ tblsp soy sauce
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp basil
1. Sauté the onion in olive oil over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, covered for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
2. Place the pecans and almonds in a food processor or blender. Using short strokes at medium speed, chop the nuts until they have the texture of very coarse corn meal.
3. Combine the nuts, chia seeds, soy flour, arrowroot, yeast, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, savory and garlic powder in a large mixing bowl and mix well.
4. Place the tofu, half at a time, in a clean dish cloth. Collect the corners and wring tightly to expel as much water as possible. Do not use cheesecloth since the holes would allow the tofu to pass through. The tofu will crumble. Break up any large pieces that remain.
5. Combine the tofu thoroughly with the onion-mushroom mixture and tahini. Add to the dry ingredients and combine well (using your hands works especially well).
6. Press firmly into an oiled loaf pan (preferably glass) and bake at 350 ° F for 1 hour.
7. While the loaf is baking, prepare the sauce. Sauté the onion in olive oil over medium heat for 7 minutes. Add all the other ingredients and cook, covered for 30 minutes and then uncovered for 15 minutes more.
8. Remove the loaf from the heat and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Turn out onto a serving dish, cover with sauce and garnish with sprigs of parsley. To serve, slice and cover each slice with sauce.
Source: Lindsay Wagner