By Shane Scott —
Walking past the colorfully spray painted walls of a semi-dilapidated 100-year-old building about a stone’s throw away from the beach, you probably wouldn’t mistake it for a church, but then again, the yoga pants wearing, modern day revolutionaries that walk through its doors don’t come off as your typical congregation either. Nestled above a meditation den, in the studio of a former Hare Krishna haven is Full Circle, a church founded by none other than 10 Things I Hate About You star, Andrew Keegan.
Any google search will tell you about Keegan and his newfound temple, how doors of full circle were kicked down and the floor raided because the church staff gave congregation members kombucha, a Japanese fermented tea believed to have healing qualities, or how most people think the place is a cult. But deciphering what it is that Full Circle is really about calls for actually heading down there and examining for yourself, because the answer is rather open ended.
“We wanted a space that would allow people to have the ability of expression, not necessarily tied to one religion,” Keegan said. “We really want to support people and what they are passionate about. We’re here to heal and be healed, because as humans, that’s a constant process.”
Full Circle, a shift away from deity and dogma and into the individual path and people finding the answers from within, as church director Jason Dilts, former director of Sedgwick County Democratic party of Kansas, describes it, was founded largely by inspiration that Keegan received from his involvement in the Occupy Venice movement. At the time, he was also living part time in New York while developing a start up fashion consumer and technology application/business, and experienced this movement directly. There was an energy there, he recalled, that they all wanted something to happen.
“It’s becoming even more clear now theres a completely different way of life for the new generation– we have got to shift,” Keegan said. “The world is being destroyed the systems are not serving the people, this crosses into some political talk, but it’s bigger than that. Politics and religion have been separated throughout time, I don’t know that that’s necessarily as healthy as uniting and being more loving in everything that we do.”
What does this ideology look like? As for Full Circle’s beginnings, nobody was really clear what it would look like. In reality, Keegan had a set of keys and a few weeks before the lease began on the empty, colorfully stained glass temple. No doubt some feelings of fear and doubt crossed the young actor’s mind, and a question that begged, “how did I end up here?”
It all started after a night the actor wouldn’t soon forget. While hosting a charity event that had gotten too loud for neighboring residents, on July 4, 2011, Keegan’s home in Marina del Mar was raided by 50 police officers, he said. After remaining unwilling to comply with officers and responding in aggression outside of his home, Keegan was slammed to the ground and detained. The authorities made an example out of him, the actor had previously explained to several media sources.
Riddled by negative press and attention, Keegan had hit a small slump in his existence. That’s when it happened, a moment that would shape the rest of his life. He sat with a close friend, talking over a cup of coffee.
“You need to focus on community,” she told him, slipping a peculiarly blue book onto his lap. “I think you should try this.”
It was the Co-Creator’s handbook.
“At the time I thought it was cute but not for me,” Keegan recalls. “I thought, I’m just this actor guy, sure I’ve done charity events but to be a guru type guy for a co-creator type religion– that’s not me.”
The Co-Creator’s Handbook, written by Carolyn Anderson and Katharine Roske, is a how-to on the methods of creating a sustainable, harmonious and “co-creative” community based around the ideologies of ancient Native American religion. It’s filled with tutorials on spiritually enabling group activities like meditation and water and sound healing, most of which was foreign to the young actor. But day by day, he went through the book. After quickly reading through it, he began getting friends together to practice the teachings inside his handbook. It wasn’t long before he had the idea to start gathering in the Venice community.
“The complexity at times was so difficult, feeling emotions and doubt, thinking, ‘is this really want to do with your life?’,” Keegan said. “That was certainly complicated and my family was quite confused.”
Regardless of the doubts of others, Keegan became more and more engrossed in his spiritual walk, so much so that it was only months later that he went to visit the Hummingbird Community, a communal society developed by the authors of the Co-creator’s Handbook, Carolyn Anderson and Katharine Roske, as well as her husband, Makasha. In Cleveland, New Mexico, surrounded by 500 acres of pure nature, Keegan spent the next several days living and interacting with the Hummingbird Community. Much of his time was spent sitting in circles, he explained, where meditation, conflict resolution, and healing would take place.
“What I think is super interesting about it is how connected it is to the environment and the native healing practices,” Keegan said. “[The world is quickly becoming] a millennial minded culture going back to the roots. That became very clear being out there.”
Upon returning to his home in Los Angeles, Keegan was hungry for that same community feel on the west coast. That’s when he became connected to the temple that now houses Full Circle. Introduced by a friend, the actor initially became a part of a different church that utilized the same space– they too practiced circle exercises, meditation and sound healing. It was exactly what Keegan was looking for, he thought.
“Initially it was presented as a co-creative group, but within a month you could see [the church’s founder] wanted it to be all about him,” Keegan explained, “and that’s why I think it didn’t work.”
While immediately drawn by the church, even becoming a financial guarantor of the organization, Keegan was repelled by it’s structure.
“They had a kind of takeover concept, [the leader] was a self proclaimed guru…he had a spiritual ego that was a conflict within the organization,” he explained. “Its philosophy was quite against what the Co-creator’s handbook was about; I think the concept of leadership is important, but Co-creation is really about everyone being their own leader.”
So Keegan left the temple, stepping away for about a year. But, having a preexisting relationship with the owner of the temple’s property, when his predecessor’s organization fell, he stepped in.
So what did Keegan establish? The core of Full Circle is based around the ideologies and teachings of the Hummingbird Community and Full Circle Farm. Activities at Full Circle temple focus largely around sound journeys, meditation and tapping. Torkom Ji, a sound healer and electronic music producer from Los Angeles, leads the weekly sound journeys. Using a sound board instrument set at exactly 432 Hz, the frequency and performance is claimed to achieve a level of deep rest in the human body that facilitates an elevated level of healing and negative waste removal. Tapping, an exercise involving pinpointing deliberate parts of the body by turing your hands palm-side up and gently tapping oneself, is also a healing exercise meant to rid the body of negative emotions and toxic energy.
“Last week, interestingly enough we did a self future sound journey, and the date that we chose was October 21, 2015, and the day before we found out that’s the same day as Back to the Future,” Keegan said. “So [on this same day] we had literally a sound journey, a future self meditation which is about you looking into the future and going through the process on how you’re going to get there. When things like that happen and they happen consistently, you just start to understand that you’re in this. The answer is just being present.”
Incorporating narration, ocean sounds and other deep tones, the self future sound journey led the members in a meditation visualizing themselves five years from now and how it is they would get there. It’s really a vibrational massage, Keegan said, describing the affects of the sounds on the body. Sound healings and sound journeys aren’t very common, but they’re becoming more popular, said Dilt. It’s basically an experience where people come into a space and lay on the floor or sit in a meditative pose while someone plays instruments- sound bowls, sometimes made of crystal, or a sound board, like the kind Torkom plays, and generate vibrations and sounds capable of affecting the body and the mind.
“You literally lay on the floor and you’ll feel the vibrations of the sound and it will put you in a meditative state to where you’re really able to go deep inside,” Dilt said. “It’s a new way of experiencing meditation– a different way. And it’s also a way that a lot of people can experience deep healing. A lot of what you’re doing is working with the sound vibration to clear pain and energy blocks from the body.”
This is where spirituality and science are starting to meet because there has been proof of the string theory– that every atom at its core is a vibration.
“If you believe it and if the sound healer is using sounds that have sacred geometry- which is what he (Ji) is working with, you are programming and at the same time you have a spirit; so in these times you’re allowing to be,” Keegan said. “You kind of fall away from things like my car, my parking, my this, my that, things connect into the synapses of ‘oh you know what I really want someone lovely in my life, i just need to be more loving,’ you have these epiphanies so to speak. It isn’t anyone preaching or teaching to you, it’s you in a self discovery mode.”
In the weekly Sunday ceremony, called “Activ888” Full Circle members not only meet for healing, but have a time for dialogue, featuring guest speakers. Past speakers have included filmmaker of the independent film, Revolution, Rob Stewart, Oprah’s OWN network ambassador life coach and author Ora Nadrich, native american healers and even fellow members. While everyone sits in a circle to listen, the speaker shares their story, usually based on the things they do in life, though it doesn’t always have to make sense, Keegan explained.
While dialogue starts with a speaker’s note on their own transformations, conversation continues amongst the members, often covering current issues in politics or the medicinal benefits of various herbs.
Full Circle also makes an effort to give back to their community in very hyper local ways. One such way includes supporting the Westside Coalition, a nonprofit organization that works to provide shelter to surrounding homeless. At the Full Circle temple, a few months back, the congregation hosted a dinner for 25 homeless individuals.
When Brendon Glenn, an unarmed homeless 29 year old, was shot dead on Venice streets last May, Keegan and congregation members held a ceremony in his honor, offering local Venice citizens a way to alleviate their grief and mourning.
“Often in our culture people have a really specific idea to save a whale or save a shark, but at the same time it’s isolating and not necessarily focusing on the whole picture,” said Keegan. “Ultimately we want to support people that come to this space and what they are passionate about. We heal because that’s part of the human experience. We’re not here to be perfect.”
What’s next? While Keegan and Dilt hope to better ground their own Venice church, they would hope that the platform in which they are pioneering can become something adaptable to any city, applying its own custom, hyperlocal feel wherever Full Circle is established. As of now, talks of a Full Circle taking root overseas, one day, floats among the church chatter.
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