Abstract: This interview is part of our ongoing coverage of unique and dynamic authors who have written compelling monographs about Michael Jackson. In it, Lisa Brisse, author of The Man in Our Mirror: A Reflection of Our Collective Soul, discusses her process and her unique perspective on Michael Jackson’s life and work.
Brisse, Lisa. “An Interview with Lisa Brisse.” Interview, The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies 2, no. 2 (2016). Published electronically 21/03/16. http://michaeljacksonstudies.org/interview-met-lisa-brisse/.
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An Interview with Author, Lisa Brisse by The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies
1) In just a single sentence, what does Michael Jackson mean to you?
He is the man in our mirror – a prophet who gave his whole life to reflect the collective consciousness (our collective soul) to us for the gift of awakening and the healing of ourselves and our world.
2) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself as an Exercise Physiologist, Life/Wellness (Heart) Coach?
I have worked as an Exercise Physiologist & Life/Wellness (Heart Coach) for nearly 25 years. In that journey of coaching people of all ages, health issues, and fitness levels in making healthier life choices, I have learned that our health is multi-dimensional and an intimate interconnection between the mind (our thoughts), the body, the heart (emotions) and our spirit. In fact, the health of our physical body is not just about what we eat and how much we exercise, rather so much has to do with our thoughts, beliefs, emotions as well as our outlook on life.
I founded my business, State of the Heart Fitness, to address the state of our heart – not just the physical heart, but the emotional and spiritual heart as well. Overall, I believe that our heart is the key to our health on all levels.. Physically, it is the source/pulse of life, but emotionally & spiritually, it is the center of our joy, fulfillment and happiness. It is through the heart that we connect to our soul, our creativity, and the Source of all that is, and it here that we connect to all beings.
My heart coaching is about helping people to get in touch with one’s heart – their joy, their passions and dreams – and living in accordance with one’s authentic self. I also teach people how to honor their bodies through movement and self-care, how to recognize the connection between their mind, body and soul, all of which is imperative to finding one’s joy.
3) How does your background connect with your work on Mr. Jackson?
What I teach in regard to honoring our heart – mind, body, spirit – is that when we “heal our heart, we heal the world.” Meaning that, ultimately, when we “heal” from the ego’s belief that we are separate from each other and instead recognize that we are all one and connected through our hearts, we not only heal ourselves, we heal the world. By recognizing our oneness (something that Michael Jackson spent his whole life teaching through his music & art), we embody a whole different vibration (love – the energy that connects us all) and as result, we become a powerful conduit to transform the world.
“My goal in life is to give the world what I was lucky to receive: the ecstasy of the divine union through my music and my dance.“ –Michael Jackson
I believe healing is simply the journey back to wholeness and oneness, and joy and movement are the essential tools to getting there. Our body is the temple of the soul and the vehicle that enables us to do our “work” (our spiritual work – in other words, the “business of living”) on this planet. Hence, to be the best we can be in any aspect of our life – parent, partner, friend, colleague, accountant, janitor, whatever… – we must honor and love our body. There is no other way.
One interesting note is that when I founded my business back in August of 2001, in regard to the logo, I kept getting the vision of the earth in the shape of a heart. I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t know if State of the Heart Fitness would go global one day or if it was just because of my love for travel, but I went with it; it’s what felt right.
Well, it wasn’t until 2011 when I was sitting on the beach in Santa Monica, listening and singing along to Michael’s “Heal the World” when it all became clear to me. When the song came to an end, it was then that I “heard” Michael say to me, “Do you get it now? When you heal your heart, you heal the world,” as I looked down at my logo on my shirt. I was blown away as the light bulb went on.
That’s the connection?!
I felt him smiling at me saying, “Yes… who do you think planted that seed in your head so long ago? It’s all connected.”
Needless to say, it brought all of pieces of my life together. For the longest time I thought my career in health and fitness and the Michael Jackson story of my life were totally separate, but now he was showing me that they are very much connected. It is through our physical body and through movement – the dance of life – where our light and spirit shine through and it shines the brightest when we honor and nurture all aspects of our being: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Unfortunately, however, most people are very disconnected from their bodies and we are often taught that our bodies do not matter. They do! They matter very much. Not in a vanity sense, but in a practical sense.
Our bodies carry the light within us that heals ourselves and the world. That’s why I teach people how to truly love and honor their beautiful bodies, no matter the shape or form. I teach them how to become “friends” with their body and have a loving relationship with it. It is the only body we have – that God has given us – and it is the physical manifestation of our soul. In other words, our body is the stage that allows us to do our own unique “performance of our life.” Thereby, learning to let go of any negative self-criticism, especially in regard to one’s body, and instead learning to truly love and accept one’s self, I believe, is the single most important journey we will ever take in this life. It is also the most meaningful. This is what I love helping people to connect to! This is how I help to “make the world a better place.”
What’s one small thing we can do right now to start that process? Simple. Put on some fun and inspiring music and dance to your heart’s content… with joy! Here starts the journey of healing! Yay! Michael will be right there with you.
4) When you started writing Michael Jackson The Man in Our Mirror: A Reflection of our Collective Soul, did you have any misgivings about the process?
Oh my god, yes!!! Practically throughout the whole six years that it took me to write the book! Though I knew in my heart that I would write a book one day about the magical journey of spirit I had with Michael since I was a teenager in the ‘80s – as well as what I believed his deeper soul purpose of his lifetime was, including all of his trials (literal and figurative) – when it came time to actually committing and beginning this project (which actually started a WEEK before he died – that’s a whole unbelievable story in itself, which I write about in the book), it just felt way too daunting to me. Who writes about Michael Jackson (such a lightning rod with all of the controversy, etc) without putting one’s neck out there in a seriously vulnerable way? Yikes! Like I say, it was incredibly daunting.
So, a few days after Michael passed, I decided to “let myself off the hook” by telling myself, “Lisa, it’s ok… take the pressure off yourself. You don’t need to write this book. It’s your personal journey and your personal thoughts. No one else other than those close to you need to know. Just go about your life as usual and forget about it,” and with that, I went about my day feeling totally relieved.
Well… Michael was NOT having it. Not even close. That night, in his way (again what I share in my book), he let me know that was not what we “agreed upon” in this “sacred contract” of this lifetime. In a way, I felt like he was commissioning me to write it… like I didn’t really have a choice. I knew deep down I couldn’t get out of this project and he made sure of it.
So, yes, there were many moments through the whole process where I just wanted to give up because it felt crazy. Especially when my writing coach, Jean-Noel Bassior, told me in the very beginning, “You have to write this book totally from your heart and share the complete truth as you experienced it; you can’t hold anything back. If you don’t tell your truth, there is no point and you might as well not write it at all.”
I knew she was right but it felt heavy. Again, I knew I was exposing myself and my own personal life because it’s not just about him. It is my life story in relation to Michael Jackson and I address a lot of society triggering topics – the concept of “God,” reincarnation, channeling, the idea that we are all ONE, addictions, letting go of the ego’s fearful perspective that keeps us believing we are separate, hence the cause of so much social injustice, hatred and war, as well as Michael’s own humanness including his insecurities and personal struggles which often led to poor judgment in some of his personal choices (choices that did not help how he came across in the mainstream consciousness and often made his situation worse at times.). I talk about it all, but exposing my own struggles in the process, so it was not a comfortable in any way, yet I knew I had to. I’m a firm believer that healing comes from sharing our own vulnerability, so I had to “walk the talk.”
In regard to the subject of discussing Michael’s very human insecurities – with the whole premise that on a soul level, he was reflecting our own human issues back to us (so we could possibly awaken and heal our own wounded hearts) – I have found is a big trigger and sensitive subject in the Michael Jackson fan community. MJ fans can be vicious if one is not putting him up on a pedestal in every moment. My whole point was not to tear him down in any way, rather to show that even though he had a HUGE role on this planet and that was to awaken us to heal the world (which means ultimately ourselves), he was also painfully human with very human issues that paralyzed him. And this happens to all of us! I wasn’t condemning him. I was just observing and sharing my perceptions and feelings in me as someone who loved him dearly. As we do with a family member whom we love but know is struggling. I was simply doing what my writing coach told me… I was just being honest. But again, with the ultimate intention to share a very expansive, soul expanding perspective of Michael’s profound purpose on this planet – to serve as the man in our mirror… to reflect the shadow sides to all of us and the healing that needs to take place within our individual souls, but in turn, in our collective soul. Again, it is in healing our own hearts that we heal the world.
5) If you had/have had the chance to meet and talk to Michael Jackson what three questions would/did you ask him?
That’s a tough one… there would be so many questions. I know Michael could talk about ANYTHING in the Universe and I would’ve loved to have days or even years to talk about it all.
Unfortunately, I never met Michael even though I was one degree of separation from him. My mom, Judi Brisse, worked as one of his housekeepers at Neverland between 1993-1996. She knew him and shared some of her endearing stories and thoughts about him in my book. But even though I was able to go to Neverland several times on “Family Days” – days when Michael would open Neverland to all of his employees and their family and friends (I once brought six friends! It was a blast!) – he was on tour when I happened to be there. I was so saddened by that, yet overjoyed that I actually got to play at Neverland. It’s as surreal to me now as it was then. What a gift.
So in regard to questions I would ask him…
- First and foremost, I would talk to him about spirituality and I would ask him specifically about the spirituality he didn’t and couldn’t talk about in public. Meaning that, I believe Michael knew so much more about his silent inner power/soul purpose than he was able to express without being criticized more than he already was. Most people already had a difficult enough time with understanding who he truly was; he revealed enough to challenge many to the core, yet, I know Michael knew so much more, especially about the power of healing… the power that Jesus had. Hence, his gift with children – particularly “sick” children – but he simply couldn’t go into depths and details about that. I get it. I understand why. Sometimes it’s just wiser to stay silent because you know people aren’t ready to understand. So, I certainly would’ve loved to talk to him about that. That would’ve been a very long, ongoing conversation, I believe.
- I would ask him about the connection he felt to the Renaissance time period and, in particular, Michelangelo. I talk about this connection in my book as it was “revealed” to me over the years. I believe Michael walked on this planet in this lifetime knowing exactly who he was on a soul level – that he transcended all space and time – but like any of us, he was still in human form and no matter how “awake” we are, sometimes we temporarily forget our own divinity and get caught up in the muck. Along that vein, I would’ve loved to ask him about his human struggles and what he felt about them on a soul level.
- I would ask him if he actually thought he could beat me in a game of one-on-one basketball and when he would say, “yes,” I would love proving him wrong! Hahaha! I really would’ve just loved to laugh and play with him… to be a kid and to tease him, relentlessly.
6) How and why did you decide to become an author?
I’ve been writing ever since I was 12 when my 6th grade English teacher made us keep a daily journal. I never stopped writing. I love love love writing and the constant therapeutic gifts it gives me. It cleanses and purges my soul of all the “junk.” It always brings me back to my center, my place of peace – my place where I am ONE with God/Our Source. So, the idea of becoming an author first came to me in the late ‘90s when it suddenly dawned on me that I needed to start writing a book about all that I had learned and was learning about myself and life through my horse, Little Miss. Little Miss has been my greatest life teacher (Michael’s up there too) ever since I was 13. She was a year old when I got her – a rescue. She will be 35 in May and I was in the process of writing her book with my writing coach, Jean-Noel, in 2009, when Michael conveniently “stepped in line” and basically “told me” his book was first! And more “urgent.” After having a conversation with Miss about this, she, of course, understood Divine timing more than anyone and gave her blessing. (Plus, her and Michael have always been in cahoots, as I know now, so she was good with it). But now that Michael’s book is out, I’m back to working on Miss’s. She’s very patient. And keeps giving me more life teachings to write about! I have recently decided her book will be “books”… a trilogy. Book One is on its way soon to a kindle near you! Ha!
7) What do you think the legacy of Michael Jackson’s art is?
His work embodies Spirit having a Human Experience on all levels of creation. His music and lyrics highlighted the whole gamut of human issues from the pain and insanity that comes with ego separation (racism, hatred, violence, injustice, etc) to the profound beauty of the Divine being expressed in all of us and in the world. His work – which will be studied in depths for generations to come – will be the likes of Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Mozart and all of the greats. I also believe he will be more readily recognised as a prophet who came to speak his “parables” through his music, dance and visual arts.
8) Who are your greatest artistic, literary and musical inspirations?
Artistic: Michelangelo and Da Vinci, of course. Hands down. Both were brilliant beyond brilliant in their unique ways. To be in the presence of their work is profound. I could feel them – their energy – right there.
Literary: Richard Bach, author of some of my favorites – Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, The Bridge Across Forever
Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love & various others.
The majority of my reading in my adult life has mostly been spiritual in nature and I could list many others.
In regard to classics from the past, one of my favorites is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
Oh… and then there is Maya Angelou too! Nothing but eloquence, beauty and class in all that she wrote, spoke and how she carried herself.
Musical: Michael, without question.
Yanni is right there with Michael for me in regard to his incredible music (though different) as the vibration behind it is ONENESS and LOVE. Yanni is the only one, other than Michael, that embraces that oneness through his music and yearns to have us all celebrate our differences and to take care of the world. He is an extraordinary human being. Unfortunately, like Michael, he is often misunderstood and made fun of, but that is common for people who often embody a higher perspective of humanity and the world.
Thomas Newman is a movie score composer whose credits include: Meet Joe Black, American Beauty, The Green Mile and so many more. His music is incredibly deep, soulful, and haunting. To me, it touches upon a very quiet, contemplative place within that takes me to another realm. I love his music.
I have many musical influences. Too many to discuss but that gives you an idea.
9) To you, what is the relationship between music and wellness/spirituality?
Music simply is the universal language of our collective soul. It transcends all races, cultures, religion, etc and has the power to unite us all.
Music has been such a huge part of my life ever since I was little. My parents are musicians and when I was a kid, their full-time job was playing a rock n’ roll band in the ‘70s. There was music playing in our house at all times which greatly enhanced my love for all kind of genres, which I am so grateful for. I have often wondered how empty life would be without music. It simply heals the soul and can bring such joy and upliftment to our beings.
When I am teaching my classes from spinning to meditation – and everything in between – I choose my music wisely and specifically because music has the ability to enhance the experience by touching us on many levels. There is much research that shows how music affects healing and how soothing music can help improve anxiety, depression, blood pressure, respiration, heart rate, and pain, while upbeat music can motivate us and bring joyful states of being.
Music is life. The more music is a part of our day, the greater well-being we will experience. It is hugely important.
10) Are you planning to write further on Michael Jackson?
Probably. I’m not sure what form that will take though if it’s another book – a continuation of the “story” as it certainly has continued in the most amazing and magical ways ever SINCE he died (transitioned). I have found Michael to be very much “alive” in spirit and very present in my life since he passed on and he has given me much more to write about should it feel right to do so. But honestly, I’m not sure. I’m writing Miss’s book right now! But I do still continue to write my blog about Michael inspired subjects when I am called to do so, so we shall see.
11) What advice do you have for those wishing to study Michael Jackson’s influence from a spiritual perspective, like you did?
You have to keep your mind open in a way you probably can’t even imagine right now. As I have found in my own personal journey, our ingrained beliefs often get in the way of being able to really “see” what is before us and what is really happening. One of my favorite quotes is from Rajpur. He says (paraphrasing), “the only thing happening here is the kingdom of heaven. The only thing that is keeping us from experiencing it is our limited perception.”
With this teaching, I have always strived to refrain from making judgments of what I am “observing” with my physical eyes, and instead, drop into my heart and observe from my spiritual eyes (essentially this is a shift from fear to love). It’s often a much, much different picture and it usually has blown my limited perspectives and beliefs out of the water. This can feel hugely uncomfortable because we cling to our beliefs; they are our security blankets, but when I have committed to letting go and letting God show me something bigger, I have been profoundly humbled and moved. There are no words for this experience.
So, I think to truly understand the true depth of Michael Jackson’s soul and what he came to this lifetime to do at this point in history on the planet, we have to be ready and willing to see beyond what we think is true or what we believe (even if we are so convinced that we already know) and become, as Michael often said (reciting Jesus), like a child and allow God/Spirit to show us what is really happening – the kingdom of heaven.
‘Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 18:3
With that said, to truly grasp the depth of Michael as well as ourselves and life on this planet, I feel studying the Course in Miracles as given by Marianne Williamson and other teachers, can truly open our hearts and bring profound peace to our souls. When we have peace in our souls, we become powerful difference makers in the world and that is what heals the world.
12) Your book was very well received, how did you feel about that?
Of course, I think it always feels wonderful when you find people who connect with and are touched by your work in some way. My purpose for sharing my story in relation to Michael was/is to bring hope and maybe a deeper understanding to others – a deeper understanding of his soul’s journey and purpose and how it relates to our own personal healing – but also to recognise the magic of life when we open our hearts to guidance from spirit.
In my journey, I have found that life is beyond truly magical and miraculous when we keep our hearts and minds open to the guidance of spirit. There is also so much abundant joy there for us when we allow ourselves to receive it. I naturally want everyone to experience this. The more people who’s hearts are filled with love and joy – and a sense of connection – the better and more peaceful the world will be.
So yes, I am happy that many people have connected with my story and deep reflections of who Michael’s soul is/was, as well as what his life – especially his humanness – can teach us about ourselves. This is most important and what I believe would make him so happy – for his life, and even his personal challenges, to help to heal the hearts of others and the world. If my book opens people’s hearts to healing their own wounds, we can become a powerful healer of the world itself.
I have received some beautiful, heart touching emails from people all over the world that have thanked me for writing this book. They have said it has had that healing effect on them and yes, this makes me smile. I know it makes Michael smile too.
13) Do you think there is a place for Michael Jackson in schools and universities, and if yes, what do you think that place is?
Yes, without question. As much as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Mozart, Shakespeare, Einstein, Gandhi, Martin Luther King,Jr., and Nelson Mandela (amongst others) belong in the history books and our educational system, Michael is right there with them – historical figures that helped change the world. But what is so unique about Michael is he is a combination of ALL OF THEM. You could have a whole course/semester studying Michael Jackson – the intricacies of his music (not just what he was saying in his songs on various human subjects and issues, which is profound in itself, but also his process of creating music), but then there is the mastership of his craft and bringing music and messages to visual life like no other via his videos and performances. There is the depth of his humanitarianism and his philanthropy, the level of his artistic talents (his poems and essays, his drawings, his love of reading and learning about every subject under the sun – what it means to be a “Renaissance Man”), his passionate environmentalism and caring for the earth, the psychology of all that he dealt with on this human level despite his fame and because of it, and also his spirituality that puts him up there with the likes of any historical saints, and, dare I say, in the echelon of Jesus and Buddha. Michael simply embodied humanity and planet earth and I believe that the more he is studied as time goes by, the more he will be recognized for who he truly was/is, and most importantly, what spiritual keys his life – in all of its challenges – have contributed and will continue to contribute to the awakening of human consciousness, our collective soul, for many generations to come.
To reiterate, he is the man in our mirror. What do we see?
14) What are your feelings about the attempt to appropriate Jackson into academic circles now?
I believe the time is NOW.
Thank-you, Lisa for taking the time to talk to us.
Lisa Brisse is author of ‘The Man in Our Mirror: A Reflection of Our Collective Soul‘, available to buy on Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. She is an Exercise Physiologist & Life/Wellness (Heart Coach) for 25 years. She started State of the Heart Fitness, to address the physical, emotional and spiritual heart. Here, she teaches people how to honor their bodies through movement and self-care. Find out more about Lisa here.
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