Sometimes in life we mistake the beautiful for the mundane. We fly right by the gorgeous sunset knowing there will be another one tomorrow. We drive down the road of life without truly seeing the signs, only the offramps that present an exit from our boredom or our pain. We want excitement to broaden our horizons and create a life of activity and possessions, because that is what fills us. Many of us are empty holes looking for something to make us feel real again, to connect us with the world. But what we need is to genuinely connect with ourselves. To do this, we must stop, look around, and see what is in front of us. By looking up into the beauty of our life and not just down at our failures, we move our attention to the possibilities in the future and soften the blow of past disappointments. Moving our focus off our failures and onto the beauty of what exists within us can brighten our outlook and redirect our energies toward growth and maturity, not only spiritually and emotionally but physically as well. 

In October 2017 my husband and I traveled to his home country of Ecuador with seven friends who had been asking for a tour for years. We started in Quito, then down to Cuenca, over to Guayaquil and then off to the Galapagos Islands for 5 days. After the islands, we returned to mainland Ecuador for three days on the beach. Once back in Quito, five of us went off to the Amazon Rainforest for four days. As luck would have it, on Day 4 of the whole tour I twisted my ankle (for the 1000th time in my life) and tore ligaments on both sides. Though medical care was definitely called for, I opted for a neoprene brace with metal rods to stabilize me, and a crutch. That’s how I traveled for the next 3 weeks. Like a gimp. I got through it, but I missed some things I would have liked to see. More importantly, looking back I see how that simple “twist” of fate was the catalyst to my enlightenment as painful as it was.

After a day of unseen traveling miseries, we reached our destination in the Amazon eight hours later than scheduled. My frustration made me question my basic right to even be there. I was kicking myself for thinking I had any business trudging through the jungle, in the rain, in the mud, in the dark. Who the heck did I think I was? Once we finally arrived at our cabana I just wanted to get inside and lay down until it was time to leave in 4 days. As I was stumping up the stairs in my self-created misery, I saw a yellow leaf on the doorstep. I would have kicked it off the step had I been able to get my balance with one good ankle, but I couldn’t and resolved myself to leaving it there. By 5am the next morning (wake-up time) I had decided to go for the first activity just to see what was up. My husband stayed back because 5 in the morning was just too early for him no matter what phenomena was on the itinerary. As I left our cabin, once again I wanted to kick that yellow leaf off the step, but my good leg wasn’t in line to do so. I don’t know what made me want to kick the leaf but I figured I’d get it coming back and off I went in a canoe; me, 3 friends, a naturalist and a guide. The morning’s jaunt into the jungle was AMAZING, beautiful, unbelievable, awe inspiring, sobering, and left me thinking about what I would have missed had I stayed in bed. I couldn’t wait to get back to roust my husband off his perch for our next adventure. When I arrived back at our cabana, I looked closer at the “leaf” and found that it was a beautiful, yet dead, Amazonian butterfly. I grabbed a piece of paper and scooped it up. It was then I realized I was so focused on my misery I completely missed the beauty laying in front of me. This was indicative of my whole life. Focus on the negative, the things I don’t have, the things people have said to me, the idiotic things I’ve done, the stupid stuff I refuse to let go of, and on, and on, and on… I felt like I was having an epiphany watching a paradigm shift take place before my eyes. I started to get excited. 

Boy I was proud of my self-realization, my turning a new leaf, I was ready to write a book. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I wasn’t even close to understanding the process I had just begun. I had so much more to learn. I had to learn to see the truth in things, not merely catch a glimpse and assume I was in possession of complete understanding. I needed to pay attention to my surroundings and not anticipate anything, only watch what comes my way. Not every experience is an epiphany. I’m now okay with the mundane as it makes my job of self-realization easier. And I had to learn how to listen, not to others, but to my own innate and intelligent inner voice. It is here where I found true insights into who I am and what I can accomplish ON MY OWN. I learned to listen to the Spirit, that gentle voice I lived my entire life trying to deny and suppress. I found a fountain of tranquility and calm I had never experienced and, though I detoured from my path a few times, I knew inherently I was finally making sense of my life.

Historically, I wandered through life with my head literally in the clouds, not receiving the answers I was seeking and not even knowing what I wanted. Food didn’t give me what I was looking for. Christianity did for a while until my faith in God was broken through personal failure or the disillusionment brought about by the destructive forces of other believers. As I grew in faith, clergy told me to be careful because the devil would send his forces to attack me, my family, my happiness, my success, and even the foundation of my belief. Hold strong to the Word, they said. So I did. I tried hard to avoid that devilish influence. I studied my Bible, read the scriptures to others, taught, learned, sang, served and found joy, happiness and peace in church. But I failed. The joy, peace and happiness were in the church, not in me. When the church failed me, I failed. And that’s where I left it. After dropping the baggage of my religion, my personal practice for many years left me dependent upon relationships, addictions or other activities to fill the gaps in my life. I didn’t understand that temporary solutions are just that, temporary. I didn’t know how to “enlighten” my path with the readily available light of the universe. This universal light is love and compassion. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s the same love and compassion that is at the center of all world religions though the expression of it is frequently hard to find in those settings. Love and compassion get lost when rules and rituals take center stage.

Once I began to “see” things differently I started to “listen” too. It’s amazing what Spirit taught me when I listened. When I speak of “Spirit” I am referring to the universal energy that is present in all cultures. Christians call it the Holy Spirit, Hindus refer to it as Prana, and the Chinese consider it Chi. This Spirit is the power behind the Higher Self. Through this Higher Power we have access to infinite wisdom, understanding, guidance and direction. Spirit tells us to put our faith in the universal truths and in ourselves. The God I banked on before is the same creative force I now turn to for insight and wisdom. The difference is now I know I have a part of God inside me. I don’t need to look elsewhere for my answers. We have the unique ability to hear the messages from Spirit through meditation, intuition and our own innate sense of being. The definition of intuition is “the ability to know and sense that which is unknown and unseen.” Our gut feelings are not necessarily intuition. Our gut feelings are based upon experience, history, emotions and even social norms. I struggled with this new direction because it conflicted with all I had been taught and learned myself about God, right and wrong, blasphemy, the “devil’s work”, and other such things. I brought my children up “in the church” and knew they were going to challenge me on this new path. I have extended family who I knew would find my enlightenment to be downright sinful. Yet my intuition told me that a measured and well-thought response to all I was learning, governed by love and compassion, would render me more powerful than anything I had ever done before. Has it made me perfect? That’s a big fat NO. I’m human. Yet it has given me a renewed sense of self that is at peace regardless of what comes my way. I used to believe and say I was strong and could handle anything. That was false because I couldn’t really handle anything that came along. I may have managed to weather the storm better than many, but the storm’s aftermath had the ability to blow me completely off my foundation. And quite frequently it did. Now I understand that I and my foundation are one. There is nothing to be blown off of because my peace, happiness and joy come from within, not from people, places or things that can provide temporary contentment. It is this simple contentment that I want to help others achieve. 

As I began to accept the universal truths of science and spirituality, I wanted to sprint down the path to understanding. I wanted to read the book that would give me all the answers. I wanted to find a guru who could show me the way during a weekend retreat because I was looking for the instant potato version of true perception. Let me just tell you now, there is no instant potato method to personal growth. Healing, true healing, comes over time and through a deep honesty that opens doors to self-forgiveness, emotional tranquility and spiritual freedom. And there is nothing like it. It’s a process that is personal for each person. No two experiences are alike. What works for me may not work for you. The basic tenets of spirituality are defined differently by each of us and enhancing our beliefs with new ideas, definitions and thought processes is not always easy. I had to open my mind to the possibility that there is something else out there. I struggled with the idea of “eternity” as a child and even through adulthood. I couldn’t get my hands around what that meant, and it scared me. Faith is beautiful, yet God gave us a mind and an intellect above all other creatures. We have the unique ability, shared with no other living creature, which enables us to look up at the stars and ponder the enormity of the universe. It is through this process of inquisition that we, as humankind, have developed all aspects of human culture. From science to religion, human beings continue to push the envelope of understanding. As scientific discoveries advance our civilization beyond our wildest imagination, spiritual discovery also marches on leading to a greater understanding of the ‘Why’ questions. If science discovers new laws of physics which enhance our physical abilities, why then do we reject spiritual discoveries which enhance the essence of who we really are?  I heard it put this way, “When you upgrade the operating system on your computer you don’t lose all the capabilities you have become accustomed to. The upgrade enhances your computer’s abilities and takes you to a higher level of computing, regardless of how you use your computer”. My spirituality has been enhanced through an understanding of universal and scientific truths that I had previously rejected because of my Western cultural world view. I found healing through the Akashic Records and realized I didn’t have to stop believing in God because God exists and is real. My perception of who God is (or what God is) now understands that humans tend to place templates on spirituality that are formed by the human conscious. God is not to be contained in human form nor is God limited by human emotion. There is no anger, judgement, punishment, penance or vengeance in God. Those are human emotions, they do not belong to the divine. There is only love and compassion. That is the key to life. And the expression of our love and compassion must first be directed toward ourselves. By listening to the lessons I was learning and seeking higher truths in the Akashic Records, I found I was the one who needed to receive love and compassion from myself first. I had allowed my psyche to become the judge, jury and jailer for all my errors over my lifetime. I could forgive others, but not myself. I told everyone else how deserving they were of all the blessings of life yet held myself back from believing the same for me. This misguided path is now closed, forever. I live in control and in step with my own Higher Power and no longer look for the escape hatch. I’ve got this. And here, through SoulZen For Life, I hope to help others find their path, set their sights, and relax in the love and compassion that is available to us all within the Akashic Records.