The “Short” Version:
After practicing law for seven years, I left the country to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage. I let go of my belongings, my position of authority, and even my language, while shedding belief after belief. I had to release all notions of who I thought I was to discover who I truly am. While traveling, my body became my home.
Developing safety and trust in my body was key. This allowed me to feel the emotions that had lay dormant for so long. The more I felt, the more my heart opened. As I connected to my wholeness, I connected with the Earth and all of life in a deeper way.
The “Long” Version:
My path in life has taken me to many beautiful places around the world. It’s given me the opportunity to live in France, Greece, England, Belgium and throughout the United States. For this, I am incredibly grateful.
But the most sacred journey I’ve ever taken has been the one into my body.
Going within my body has allowed me to feel the depths of my own being. The energy that pulsates within me. The Divine Presence that IS me.
By seeing what’s there and allowing myself to feel, my heart has been opened wide. Joy floods through unlike I’ve ever felt before.
It wasn’t always this way.
After experiencing trauma and pain at an early age (and likely in many past lifetimes), I began to shut down my ability to feel. It was too painful. Too much to bear. It was “easier” to keep my heart closed. I was proud of saying that “nothing could hurt me.” I didn’t let people get too close to me and kept them at arm’s distance.
I believed that expressing emotions was “weak”. I was scared of being vulnerable, and scared of being judged for expressing how I felt. My intellectual capacities developed, but I never learned emotional intelligence.
My body was rigid and tight. The tension within was palpable. I had chronic neck and shoulder pain. My hips wouldn’t move when I tried to dance. And I felt disconnected from the head down.
But our Soul always has a way of waking us up, and shaking us back into Awareness. We can choose to respond by shutting down further. Or we can listen to the alarm clock and get out of bed.
I got out of bed.
When my house flooded in 2008, I lost many of my possessions, including my car, in just a few hours. At the time, I was a criminal prosecutor in Charlotte, North Carolina. My whole life was centered around an “us vs. them” philosophy. I saw things in “black and white” terms. There was a “good,” and there was a “bad.” The word “should” was a constant part of my vocabulary.
But I began questioning everything.
Why was I here?
What was my purpose?
What was I doing?
How did I feel?
The possessions I lost could be replaced. But the love and kindness shown to me after such a disaster began to break the prison bars I’d placed around my own heart.
My meditation practice began soon after. Suddenly there were people in my life and books being given to me that helped me learn how to meditate. A friend I hadn’t heard from in almost three years contacted me out of the blue offering a free meditation course.
While it was difficult to create a regular practice, I found peace during meditation that I hadn’t felt before. I was beginning to know myself in a new way. A more relaxed, open way.
Just over a year later, I was in a serious bicycle accident that left me needing surgery on my face. There was a large gash in my chin that went two inches deep. The whole right side of my face was pushed over and incredibly swollen.
I went into the bathroom to take off my facial bandage for the first time. When I saw my reflection in the mirror, I was taken aback. I looked deformed. It wasn’t the face I was used to seeing. But then I saw my eyes and looked deeply into them. I was no different. Despite my appearance, I was the same inside.
That’s when I understood with every cell of my being:
I am not my body. I am a Soul inhabiting this body.
My physical therapist told me that I could no longer lift weights in the gym – it would only further contract my shoulders, which were injured during the bike accident. He recommended yoga. I’d tried it once, years prior, and protested. But he was pretty firm, so I agreed to give it a try again.
Thus began my adventures with yoga as a regular practice.
It enabled me to feel my body in a new way. I wasn’t pushing it so hard. I was slowing down, and able to notice new sensations within. My breath became synonymous with my movement. I was beginning to feel more connected.
But I still had chronic pain. I was going to talk therapy at the time, which was helping me to understand my feelings on an intellectual level. I was able to grasp what the counselor was saying, but I couldn’t feel it in my body. While my mind seemed to be expanding through meditation and therapy, my body was not. It was still rigid, tight and tense. And I still felt incredibly disconnected from it.
I needed help. That’s when I discovered Network Chiropractic, a form of spinal treatment without the use of physical manipulation. We did breathwork, and I often attended weekend retreats where we engaged in group spiritual activities. We were a community, and I felt safe to express myself.
This allowed me to begin feeling on a deeper level. I accessed emotions that had been stored within my body for a very long time. The disconnect between my mind and body was getting smaller and smaller. I even began attending 5Rhythms Dance Workshops and moving what were formerly called my “granite hips.”
I felt sensual. Open. Ecstatic during dance. Dance was my medicine. Through dance, I gave my body permission to move me, rather than me moving my body. In other words, the movement came from within.
Then I embarked on a spiritual pilgrimage to Europe, where most of my time was spent in France. My initial travels were focused on discovering territory related to Mary Magdalene. I left my prosecutorial career behind, gave up my law license, let go of almost every possession I owned, vacated my apartment and said goodbye to family and friends. All because of a very deep knowing inside that I had to do this. Or I felt like I would die.
Prior to this inner call, I’d begun learning about Mary Magdalene from a different historical context than I’d always been taught. She wasn’t a prostitute, I learned. In fact, that story was fabricated hundreds of years after Jesus’s death by a politician during a speech he was giving. There is no biblical or historical context substantiating any such claim.
This opened my eyes. It also enabled me to connect further with the truths I held inside of me. That there is no shame in being a woman. There is no shame in sexuality or sensuality. There is no shame in feeling.
But, once again, I had to heal the disconnect that existed between what I knew in my head and what I knew in my body.
During my time in Europe, I met a man with whom I shared a deep soul connection. We went on our own relationship adventure, and I was made very aware of my own limiting beliefs. Because I felt so much shame within my body, I allowed myself to be shamed by my partner.
Because I needed love from him, needed his approval, needed to please him and make him happy, I gave him all of my power. I focused on his needs, and not my own. I focused on his feelings, and not my own. I focused on his desires, and not my own.
In other words, I lost myself.
At the same time, I was releasing any concept of who I thought I was. No longer could I use my title or position to justify my existence. I had no belongings to call my own, nothing external to hold onto. Not even my own language, or my own country. I was falling apart. Rather, my ego was falling apart.
This intense period of isolation from outside love and support was painful. It got to the point where I had no choice but to go inside. Which seemed both scary and comforting at the same time.
I began spending hours on my yoga mat every day. It was the only way that I could survive through the situation I had created for myself. It was the only thing that gave me peace. That made me feel connected. That opened my heart to myself.
But I wasn’t just practicing yoga. I started moving more slowly. Paying attention to my every movement. Focusing all of my awareness on various parts of my body. Breathing into them. Talking to them. Listening to what they had to say.
I started making sounds. While on sacred land in southern France near Rennes-le-Chateau, strange noises began coming through my mouth while my throat was burning. This, I later discovered, was “Light Language.” I began speaking Light Language more regularly, as a way to heal myself.
There were also sounds of screams, and sobs. Moaning and groaning as I felt the pain that had been stored so deeply within my own body. Yet, I felt strangely liberated even while crying. IT FELT SO GOOD TO CRY. I loved hearing my own sounds. Feeling my own body.
I began listening to its whisperings. The quiet murmurs asking me to change the way I was living my life. To stop holding on to the fears. To start expressing myself, and my needs.
As I honored my needs on the mat, I could begin honoring my needs off the mat. I could begin speaking up for myself. Putting up boundaries. Saying no. Because on the mat, I was aware of how much it was all hurting me. How much I was hurting myself.
I couldn’t do that to myself anymore. Enough was enough.
I left the relationship, and I left Europe.
My body responded. Rashes, heat, sweats, and grief unlike I’d ever felt before. At times, it literally felt like I was within a black hole. All I could see was darkness, even with my eyes open. I wanted to die. It felt too painful to live. But those moments passed. There were also moments of joy and incredible freedom, as I could breathe freely again. I could be me. I didn’t have to be ashamed of me.
I’d been living in self-deception. My mind said one thing, but I felt the truth of it in my body. When my mind told me I needed to go back to my partner because I couldn’t live without him, I asked my body how it felt. It responded: When I’m with him, I contract. When I’m alone, I expand.
I wanted to expand. I was tired of contracting.
My next experiences in life were not so easy, as I had to start all over again, with hardly a dime in the bank. I was met with spoken and unspoken expectations of how I should live my life. What others thought was “best” for me. They told me what “reality” was and how I had to “play it safe.” But none of that was what I wanted.
I saw all the ways in which I denied myself. How I did so much to please others. To make them happy. To meet their needs. Because that gave me the love I was so desperately seeking. And it protected me from the withdrawal of their love.
The only true remedy? To love myself even more. To give myself the love I was seeking. To expand into my truth, and not the truth of others. I could love them for their choices, but I could make my own choices.
I was called on another spiritual pilgrimage, this time to Magdalena, New Mexico. A beautiful and isolated place in the desert. The face of Mary Magdalene is still visible on the mountain peak in the center of town, which is how the town received its name.
Going to Magdalena was, in and of itself, an act of self-love. Rather than releasing, which I’d done during my pilgrimage to France, I was expanding. Expanding my heart to include all aspects of myself, all the parts of me that I was still ashamed of and wanted to deny. The parts of me that still judged, that were still afraid, or holding pain.
I expanded my body through alignment practices and deep, full breaths, despite my resistance to open. Because I was scared of being “big.” Scared of being powerful. Scared of being seen. Yet, my deepest fear – of being seen – was also my deepest desire.
I heal this by seeing myself.
No matter what role I may play in this world, healing is my true work. This I do by elevating my consciousness, by letting go of beliefs that limit me, by going deeper within my own heart to access the unconditional love that resides there. My heart knows my Truth. My body guides me along my path. And I hope to be a guide to others on their own journeys.