Part 1 Crossing The Threshold Returning to the World
After my awakening experience, I lived in a state of great light and bliss for about a year. Then, the light began to fade and my life seemed much more difficult. During that challenging time when the darkness seemed so overwhelming, something deep within continued to haunt me, never letting me forget who I really am.
Soon after my awakening experience, my marriage ended and fame and fortune began to pursue me. I was just an aerobics teacher/dancer and model, but during this phase, people were drawn to me like bees to honey. In the early 1980s, my picture was on the front page of a major Canadian newspaper with an accompanying full-page article declaring me a “Goddess Revolutionizing Fitness.” Shortly thereafter, I was offered a morning spot on Canada AM. Other Canadian and American television producers were calling, wanting to offer me my own health and fitness show, or appearances on other shows already on the air. A well-known soft drink company offered me a lucrative contract to be an international fitness spokesperson for their product. Movie offers and modeling contracts appeared. Perhaps they were drawn by the energy of my awakening experience, but people in positions of power wanted to turn me into a star. My friends were awestruck at all that was coming my way. It was overwhelming. I was being picked up in limousines, meeting with celebrities, and “taking” meetings to discuss impressive-sounding business deals. The world and all of its glory rushed towards me, and every dream and fantasy I had ever had appeared at my doorstep. This was the worldly face of my awakening. However, the new energy cascading through my body would not allow itself to be con- trolled; I could not be coerced into becoming a Hollywood persona.
I had had such a profound transformation in body and psyche that integrating the new hormones and energies was difficult. I found myself shaking a lot because of the kundalini energy traveling up my spine. With the sud- den appearance of a uterus, my hormones were in tur- moil. My body was trying to balance itself, a natural process but very uncomfortable. All I wanted to do was to run away from the chaos, inner and outer. I went on retreat to contemplate all that was taking place and came to realize that I could neither control what came my way nor what might leave me. When I returned, the promised fame and fortune began to dwindle and soon dissolved. Iwaslivinginsuchblissthatthelossoffame and fortune did not trouble me. Other experiences took precedence. I became highly sensitive to other people’s thoughts and feelings, and discovered that I had healing and psychic powers. People would share stories of being healed of an illness or having experienced some kind of awakening after speaking with me or taking one of my classes. I was living almost continually in a state much larger than my personality, but I didn’t fully understand what I was feeling and experiencing. It was as if I was my Soul rather than my personality. Not having a guide or mentor to provide context or to mirror my state, I was greatly confused as I struggled to continue to live my life in the old way. This confusion was compounded by the energies that were moving through my body. Sometimes they took the form of torrential sexual energy. Sometimes I experienced intense irritation and psychic sensitivities that made it difficult to be with other people for very long because I would feel their unexpressed feelings in my own body. I could no longer stand noise or crowds; I craved nature, peace and quiet, and a more meditative lifestyle.
My relationships with some of my friends and acquaintances changed, as I could no longer drink wine, go to parties, watch TV or movies, or even drink coffee. All of these former pleasures made me feel ill. My new body demanded a life of purity that eliminated those friends who could neither understand nor accept that I was no longer “fun” in the old way. I even lost a boyfriend who was dear to me. My work life changed as well. I broke my foot, which prevented me from doing my fitness classes or dance work for a number of months. People began gravitating to me seeking spiritual workshops, groups, and individual counseling, even though I never advertised. My life was moving so fast that I just had to hang on and follow where this energy was leading me. My longing for a spiritual life compelled me to spend every penny on meditation retreats so that I could bathe in the bliss of the inner Self. I was finding it hard to live in the world in the old way, and yet the “new” way still hadn’t formed.
This journey took many, many years. After the first year of bliss and light, worldly woes, including financial, relationship, and health difficulties, began to drag me down. I wondered if I had done something wrong to deserve this apparent “fall from Grace.” Longing to find the doorway back to that brilliant light, I pursued gurus and teachers, scriptural study, meditations, selfless service, and many techniques that promised to open path- ways to God. I even learned to transmute my baser emotions and sexual drive to a higher frequency. Sometimes engaging in these practices would open the door easily; other times the door would not budge.
At first, I enjoyed the game of knocking and trying to find the right “code” to experience the divine door opening. But I realized how much ego I had yet to let go of before the door would stay open. I tried to become aware of this ego and purify myself, which worked for a while, but eventually I saw that my “trying” was what was keeping the door closed. Growing tired of this door game, I wanted to quit; the door was locked and my heart was growing cold. I came to realize that all of my striving was no longer of value.
A deeper purification of my ego was required. Frustrated and miserable, one day I prayed to God, “Please send me a true teacher who is fully purified so that I can be helped and directed to where I need to go next.” A part of me resented having to make an effort to return to the light that was previously so available to me, and so becoming a “seeker” felt false. Nonetheless, I realized that I needed to let go of identifying with my awakening experience if I was to be receptive to the blessings and guidance of a teacher.
Some time later, I was supposed to go out with a few friends to a conference that had been planned for weeks, but I felt sick and unable to go. Instead, I chose what I thought would be a relaxing evening listening to a talk by Joseph Chilton Pierce, who was introducing the Siddha Yoga master, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, to Vancouver. The instant I saw her image on the video screen, I gasped, “Oh my God, that’s me!” I knew that I needed to meet her – this was my teacher. After meeting Gurumayi, I felt a sense of renewal and a reminder of who I really am. Some of the energies stirring through my body began to balance out.
From that moment on, I spent years studying, traveling, and living in ashrams with her, and I had many powerful and transforming experiences. From Gurumayi’s example, I learned how important it was to honour one another and all of life. This was why purification of the ego was so necessary. Even though I knew my true Self, my knowing was obscured by ego tendencies such as unworthiness, doubt, guilt, and pride. For my personal- ity self and God Self to merge as one, cleansing myself of these “ego covers” was required. I was beginning to understand at a deeper level that the true purpose of life really was Love.
I also realized that having an enlightenment experience, awakening, or direct experience of truth, is no ordinary event. Opening to our true Self can come at any time, whether through meditation, childbirth, tragedy, the grace of a true master or any number of other situations, but it requires honouring and nurturing. Once we have experienced the truth, we cannot go back and live the lie. We have a responsibility to the people around us and to the world we live in, which requires seeing ourselves as ambassadors of God’s Love. Therefore we must live virtuous lives that encompass selfless service, honesty, seeing the God within everyone, and transmuting every situation to peace and love rather than war and hatred.
We must honour the one Light that is shared by all hearts and that ends with no door of any shape or size, just total stillness, presence, and freedom from the illusion that there is a need for any journey to be taken.