Lucid Dreaming: The Beauty of Dream Control

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Dream Control:  Dream control is certainly possible.  I discovered the “hand technique” popularized by Carlos Castaneda as I recovered from a major  accident which required a year of physical  recovery. Castaneda suggests looking at your hand each night before bed.  The first time I willed myself to have a lucid dream I stared at my hand for about ten to fifteen minutes before bed, making my hand the mental anchor. I told myself repeatedly that if I saw my hand in my dream, I would realize I was dreaming and be able to control the dream at that point.  I would not let the reality of the dream change into anything I didn’t want it to turn into.

I’m sure there are many different suggestions about how to have a  lucid dream  and even different interpretations of Castaneda’s book The Art of Dreaming, but using my hand as a mental anchor worked for me.  It took a full month of practice before I was able to have a lucid dream.  I had a lot of downtime after the accident, so I can imagine it might take longer for other people with more stress in their lives.  Also, I had experienced a near-death experience during my surgery and that might have made it easier for me to be successful with dream control.

Success with the Technique:  After a month of practice, I had a dream where I had a date with a guy who drove a red Ferrari.  The guy said something arrogant, and I’ve never cared much for flashy, red cars. I got out of the car and slammed the door.  In the process, I slammed my hand in the car door.  My hand hurt, and I looked down and stared at my throbbing, painful hand.  In that moment in the dream, I clearly saw my mental anchor.  I began lucid dreaming at this point.

I smiled, relishing the control, and immediately healed my hand. Then, I waved happily to the man standing by his car in confusion.  I wished him better luck with the next date, and then I shot up into the sky like a superhero with a mission to eradicate all human pain and suffering.  Flying felt amazing, just like it had when my spirit left my body during surgery and flew through the walls of the hospital and out over the night sky in Austin.

In the dream, the world was bright with sunlight, and I flew in large, relaxed circles above the ground, looking down at our beautiful world and feeling wide expansive freedom as if I were an eagle.  From this vantage point, I thought about how most people on earth desire love and money, so my mission started by giving everyone gold, as a symbol of abundance and being aware of their own spiritual light.

What Do We Really Want to Give Ourselves and Others?:  As I flew around the world in this amazing dream, I looked down and saw that I could make everyone feel more light-filled and joyful.  I also wanted to make certain that no one on earth felt hungry, lacked shelter, or felt physical pain.  I spread love and ecstasy into all the hearts and souls on the planet.  Those who desired a companion, a community, a great love found these connections, but they loved themselves all the more, knowing that our journey is sometimes a solitary one.  Most things and people leave us in one form or another, so I gave everyone love and strength to be their own spirit guide, to love themselves deeply and to guide themselves home, flying free of all chains of the material.

After bringing peace and contentment to the planet,  I still had time in the dream, and I considered what I wanted for myself on a hedonistic, pleasure-seeking level.  I decided to make love with four different men that night—Johnny Depp, Antonio Banderas, Andy Garcia, and Matthew McConaughey. Though fun, I thought true love would be a better experience, and imagined what it would feel like to love someone deeply and for a long while.  I imagined a happy, blissful romance and loving companion.  I sped through time and saw our deaths, and then sped back in time.

After experiencing true love, I continued with hedonistic pleasures and ate a big portion of a thickly frosted wedding cake in a castle at a young, happy couple’s fancy, festive wedding.  Then, I thought about what would make for a perfect ending to a wildly fantastic dream and decided that I wanted to feel what it felt like to be a great, brilliant composer.

As I flew through the pink clouds of sunrise, I imagined that I wrote every note of Mozart’s Magic Flute, deeply pleased with what it must’ve felt like to be a musical genius with the ability to create such happy, joyful sounds.  At the end of the dream, I flew into the light of the divine which manifested itself as the sunrise over mountains.  I sent more love to everyone on the planet, telling them they were o.k. and everything would be fine.  I believed this for myself as well.

Lucid Dreaming Now: When I lucid dream  or participate in dream yoga now, I work on smaller scenarios and usually continue to enjoy what it feels like to be like a bird in flight.   Not just a bird exactly, but a bird with powers of manifestation.  I’m not sure why I always prefer to fly in dreams, but flight makes me feel freer in the morning.  I envy birds and their view of our world.  I think a lot of problems look much smaller from a high vantage point.

Maybe Nelly Furtado’s song, “I’m like a bird, I’ll only fly away” has been an anthem of mine for a while.  I’m trying to learn to fly away in my dreams and keep my feet firmly planted on earth during the day.  Maybe when they say, “She’s/He’s a free spirit,” they mean this person can fly in his or her dreams.  Maybe I want to teach the world to fly and never drink coke.

I hope everyone gets to fly like an eagle at least once in their dreams.

Peace to all.

Your Destiny is to Heal, Serve, and Love Unconditionally

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You can have much greater happiness when you turn your attention and consciousness to the presence of God within you.

Believe in Your Divinity:  You are the divine spark.  You are blessed and more beautiful and expansive than you fully grasp.  Your power for good in this world is literally limitless because there is a part of you that is eternal, limitless, and timeless.

Sure, you feel small.  You feel barely heard or even unheard of from time to time, but you are large, and you bless the world wherever you travel, wherever you walk, and wherever you work.

Personally, I’ve grown tired of blocks to the Divine while living in this body and participating in the human experience, so I decided to do away with the blocks and live in a place of love as much of the time as I can handle.  My goal is to permanently reside there.

Of course, big goals leave a lot of room for failure, but I prefer big goals. Beethoven wanted to create music that transceneded time.  In a way, he did create music that transcends time, though I’m sure this particular goal made him work harder than he imagined possible.  I am sure there are days he felt like a failure despite all the beauty he created.

My concentration is on the Divine light inside of me, and my purpose of living is to remind you of your light and connection.  Too often, we turn on and off our connection, but it is better to leave the light turned on.  Never turn it out.

Control:  As humans, we can only control our body and our mind.  These two areas take a lot of discipline to master.  We cannot control much more than this, and it is amusing (and frustrating) to try to control others or to watch others try to control others.  Master what you can control–yourself.  There is joy and peace in this practice.

You turn your light out with a focus on all that you don’t have in the physical world. 

Be Grateful:  Out-picture and believe in what you want and rejoice in all that you have.  Show your gratitude to the world in small and large ways, and you will be rewarded.   Make a long list of even small things that you enjoy about life.

I am grateful to have lungs that work, strong legs that take me many places, new friends, old friends, and nearly perfect vision to see many beautiful parts of this world.  When I feel ungrateful, I imagine that I am a woman transported into my current life from the mid- 1800’s. A woman from the mid-1800’s would be amazed by the technology and all the great food stored in my freezer in pantry.  She would delight in the smells of my soaps and perfumes.  Most of all, she would breathe a sigh of relief and greatly appreciate the freedoms she has as a woman in this time period.  I still think she wouldn’t vote for Trump, but that is my opinion 🙂 She would walk around the grocery store overwhelmed and overjoyed by all the choices.  She would love my job, my clothes, my shoes.  She would love my life so much.

I am grateful for the kind people in my life.  I’m grateful for the diligence of my online students this summer session.  Even though I would prefer to meet them at least once, I hope they are enjoying their freedom as much as I am enjoying mine.  I hope they get to spend more time with their families and friends and enjoy more vacations.  I hope they get more rest since they don’t have to commute in order to be in class.

I am grateful simply to be alive.  I am lucky to be alive after all the near misses, the two guns pointed at me (one in a robbery at a place I worked for and one on the sidewalk in Austin).  I’m lucky to have survived the anger and aggression of certain men who seemed to want me dead in the moment. I’m lucky to have a soft bed to rest my head, three square meals a day, toothpaste that tastes good, tons of books, and a sense of rhythm on the dance floor.

Choose to Love Others:  I’m lucky that I’ve chosen to love many times throughout my life, and I wish I had loved more fully more often. Though many teachers talk about loving the self—loving others is brave, risky, and a worthy journey.  To send your love out like a letter without a return address, like a messenger pigeon in the middle of a war, like a surrender flag—this is beautiful.  I’m not talking about need and lust—people are eventually turned off when you want something from them.  Love is something you give and give freely without a return address.  No expectations.  Love someone, and they don’t have to love you back. Love for the sake of love, for the beauty of love, for loves ability to change the world.

I remember when I first learned to walk again after my surgery and near death experience.  I was a vibrant twenty–two year old woman, exquisitely happy to be alive.  My light was fully, almost explosively, turned on.   Sometimes street lights even popped off when I walked under them.  I blew out watches within days, weeks, or months of having them on my wrist.  Time was blessed and not something to be managed down to the minute. Connecting with others and enjoying each moment is what mattered.

I walked down city streets of Austin and smiled into the eyes of everyone I passed.  Many people were so angry, upset, and disgusted with their lives that they scowled back in return. They were often overworked, unhappy, and unfulfilled.  They focused on all the burdens and bad luck that seemed to have come their way.  They were angry at others instead of simply being happy to be alive.  Joy and passion seemed far from their reach. Some women felt their value in society had decreased as they aged, and they were envious of my youth or perceived attractiveness.  They scoffed at my smile.   I promised myself to be a different type of woman throughout my time on earth and decided to support all women no matter where they are in their journey or what physical form they jumped into for this merry-go-round trip around the sun.  Some men flirted with me when all I wanted to do was smile.  Some people were centered enough to receive my love and ecstatic, newborn-like joy as something worthy of a return smile.   Some people were sincerely curious why I was so happy and listened to my story with interest.   Some people felt that divinity brought me into their lives just at the right time–just as they lost a loved one or struggled with the recent loss of a loved one.  They believed that my story of the other side was part of their healing journey.

Accept the Love of Others:  Most people readily accept ecstatic joy in the eyes of an infant or toddler, a tiny being enthralled with the colors and wonders of this world.  Why, then, can’t we accept ecstatic joy from people of all ages and nationalities?  We are all travelers going in the same direction—eventually home.

Why not let your light shine right now?  Why not love the light you see in others whether they are at the beginning, middle, or end of their journey.  Why not love without censorship or discrimination?  Why not love?  Most of all, why not love yourself with a love than never ends?  Why not be healed?  Why not serve others in the best ways that you can?

A Mission of Joy and Light from an NDE: A Special Message for Creative People

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Mission from The Light:  Toward the end of my near death experience, the light of the divine flooded my spirit body with its own power and wholeness.  I was shocked by how large and light-filled my spirit body became in that moment and felt a little embarrassed that I was asked to carry this light back into the world.  At twenty-one, I felt more comfortable being small and hiding within myself.  I felt humbled that this mission would be accomplished by connecting with others and reminding them that their own light can and should be turned on and turned up.  There is no better way to be a light and force of good on this planet than to help others learn to love themselves more and to open up to the world with a desire to help, to serve, and to inspire.  I saw that my spirit’s journey would influence others to make thier way through the world, committed to making our world a better place with their unique talents and perspectives.  Teaching is one of the more obvious ways to build the self-esteem of others and to remind them of their power as individuals as a force of good on this planet.  I firmly believe that education transforms lives.

Many of you might be familiar with the Marianne Williamson quote from “A Return to Love:  Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

No one benefits from anyone who plays small and doesn’t fully own their power.  Maybe when you own your power, your family won’t understand you, but maybe thousands of other people might.  Maybe some people who don’t know you will be jealous and critical, but thousands of others will love you for being fully yourself, fully alive, and one hundred percent authentically you.  If you are a woman, maybe some twisted men will stalk you or harass you.   However, I am encouraged by the many women who stand up to their stalkers and refuse to be threatened.  I love this millennial generation of strong women, and I learn from them in many ways as I work as their professor.  I see that they have learned from the struggles of other generations and are willing to live differently and live with greater and greater personal power.

Education as a Connection to Purpose:  In classrooms across the nation, children, teens, and adults get glimpses of how they might offer their talents and joy to the world.  This process is the beginning of manifestation.  Great book ideas, inventions, and business ideas are often formed from a snippet of a lecture.  I love how Rebecca Skloot came up with the idea for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks from a brief mention of the woman whose cancer cells were taken without her knowledge back in 1951.  Skloot heard this information while sitting in a biology class in community college.  This one moment in time eventually launched a different career path for Skloot.  If people dared not to believe in themselves, then the world would have fewer lights, connection, and beauty.

My mission as an instructor and writer (and the most important lesson I teach) is for others to believe in themselves.  I have reached a point in life where I know that believing in my power in more expansive ways will open up avenues to reach more people and remind them to love themselves and connect with the divine light inside of them.  In turn, they will carry their messages of light, kindness, compassion, and beauty into the world.

Self-Love:  Many spiritual practices begin with self-love and that is a great place to begin.  Matt Kahn suggests holding your hand over your heart and saying the words, “I love you,” during times of great distress.  It is important to keep doing this until you actually feel better.  Probably a few times won’t be enough to help.  Most people would comfort a child or baby in this way until the child calms down, yet they react to themselves with frustration and anger, sometimes even turning this anger outwards instead of taking care of themselves.  Giving ourselves kindness, compassion, and care is the first step in being able to adequately care for others.  If we are not filled with love for ourselves, then we are only using other people to fill a gaping hole within ourselves.   Self-love works against depression, fear, and trauma.  It is one of the greatest healing practices, and it is free, non-toxic, and the only side-effect is brighter eyes, fewer tears, and more joy.

Link between Creativity and Depression:  My Creative Writing students ask me why they write their best poems when they are sad or going through a break-up or why so many famous poets battled with depression and sometimes took their own lives.  There are many different researchers who claim that there is a link between depression and creativity and a few who claim that there isn’t a definite link.  Whether there is a link or not, I care about my student’s well-being, so we talk about ways they might take better care of themselves and others they know who suffer from depression.  Self-love seems to be the first step in recovery from depression, but helping others is the step that seems to make the most difference.   Being thankful or keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to train the mind to be more optimistic.

Artists have a particularly tough path in that they must also not be afraid of criticism. An extremely healthy self-esteem is part of being a successful artist. Defying tradition and defying the beliefs of others takes enormous courage.  The journey of the artist can be a lonely one, but it does not have to be characterized by depression.  Luckily, most artists embrace change and growth easily.  I have learned that the artist’s journey can be characterized by great, enormous amounts of joy if I only remember to stay present and aware of the beauty of this world.  My openness to new experiences and high tolerance for ambiguity means that I am more open-minded than many personality types, and I have the ability to appreciate a wide variety of experiences.  In the past, I let criticisms of these traits trouble me, but now I’m glad I live in my mind instead of minds ruled by tradition and routine.  Variety of personalities on this planet make the world more interesting.  I am who I am, and I choose to appreciate my particular approach to life and journey as an artist.  I hope that all creative types do appreciate their way of looking at the world.  Myers Briggs, Enneagram, and many other tests show us some of the beautiful variety of people we interact with regularly.

If you have the artist’s journey, be sure to have a good friend take pictures of you laughing.  Make sure your critics know that you are enjoying every delicious moment of your life fully and that they are wasting their time and only bringing themselves down with the time they spend in judgement and needless gossip.  That time could be better spent liking themselves because loving oneself is one of the most important keys to success. Make sure your critics know that criticism only makes you work harder and shine brighter and will never shut you up.   As Aristotle said, “Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”   Being and doing nothing benefits no one except the highly insecure.

Healing Work at Colleges and Universities:  Years ago, in a large undergraduate class at a large research university, we took a personality quiz and were divided up into groups.  Most of my friends participated in large groups of rowdy students as part of a study about leadership, but I was placed in a room by myself and asked to draw pictures and write poems based on various prompts.  The study looked at the link between depression and creativity.   This is a particularly lovely article from the Atlantic which discusses this possible link and profiles one of my favorite writers during college–Kurt Vonnegut.  I like to think that the study I participated in might have helped researchers realize something about the desperation and sadness some students can feel at university when they are thrown into a maelstrom of alcohol, drugs, and noncommittal relationships without having a chance to do any healing work on all of the wounds they may carry from childhood and early adolescence.  Barely surviving those first few years of college has given me enormous compassion for my students who struggle in their own ways and desperately try to create a bright future while still suffering from the wounds of their past.  They have no idea how to parent themselves in the ways their own parents might have failed them.   If they are creative, their artwork might represent some of this struggle.  I know that artists are sometimes a bit tortured, lovely but tortured.  Perhaps artists need extra healing work in order to help bring about societal changes they sometimes are inspired to create.

Healing work should be required and essential for first week back activities for freshman and community college students.  Education certainly transforms lives, but there is much more that it can and might do in the future.  I like to believe, despite what we see on the news, that the future is brighter and will continue to be brighter, perhaps because of the many lightworkers on the planet and the many more who will exist in the future and work to make our world safer and more beautiful.  One of my visions for my future is being a facilitator for this type of healing work at colleges across the country.

 

wounded healers

 

 

My Story as a Rape Survivor and a Response to the Sentence for Brock Turner (Trigger Warning)

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Like every rape survivor, I know that Brock Turner’s victim will have repercussions from being raped that will last for years, decades, and perhaps her entire life. The moment will not end for her in the twenty-minutes it took to be assaulted.

Rape and the years of PTSD that followed did not fit into the story line that I imagined a near death experiencer might have in her life.  I imagined that I would write a book about my NDE many years ago.  I imagined being deeply involved in the spiritual community and learning from shamans how to make sense of fleeting moments of clairvoyance and clairaudience.

After my NDE, I read books by Carlos Castaneda and learned dream control.  It seemed easy for me to pop out of this physical form, and meditation allowed for out of body experiences on several occasions.  These types of experiences were the type of experiences I wanted to chronicle.  I never imagined rape as part of my story, and I had no idea how that one moment in time (probably a mere twenty minutes like the Brock Turner case) would deeply and profoundly affect the rest of my life.   Most people are outraged by Turner’s fathers statement that his son should not go to jail for twenty minutes of assault.  A crime is a crime.  It doesn’t matter how long it took someone to commit that crime.  I’m sure some women have been raped and assaulted in under ten minutes.   Each woman carries that story with her for the rest of her life.

As I finished my undergraduate degree in Austin, I studied A Course in Miracles, Thict Naht Hahn, mediated at retreats and on my own, and began practicing yoga.  Following my inner guidance, I decided to teach overseas in South Korea.  While in Kunsan, South Korea, I loved meditating in the quiet, beautiful temples.  I loved my respectful Korean students who bowed to me, erased my boards, and wrote me the sweetest notes.  I even loved the food, imagining that I would miss Kimchi and continue to want it with every meal. (I didn’t miss it that much).  I had moments in South Korea that I have never experienced in the U.S., moments where I felt one with everyone.  A bank teller might hand me change, and suddenly I was one with her and with everyone around me.  These loving, light-filled experiences were magical and beautiful.

Rape in a Foreign Country:  What I didn’t count on or foresee or predict was the moment I was woken up in the middle of the night to find a man on top of me, the owner of a competing Hagwan in town.  One of my roommates suggested that he could crash on our couch after a night of drinking.  He had other plans while they stayed out.  I briefly fought him, but he fought back, jamming his elbow into my neck with surprising force; I feared my windpipe might collapse.  Shock, horror, and numbness took over.  My only thought was that I was glad I was not a virgin and that I could remember happier, loving, or freer times.  When it was over, I desperately wanted to go back in time to the few hours before when I was reading a book by Tolstoy.  I wanted to go back and stay awake all night long and avoid this moment in time.  I didn’t want rape to be part of my life story.  No one does.  This isn’t the story I wanted to tell the world.

The next morning, my Korean friend took me to the doctor, and advised me that it wasn’t worth going to the police.  She said they didn’t take the complaints of Korean women that seriously, so they certainly wouldn’t care about an American’s perspective, especially since the guy had taken us all out to dinner and bought our table a bottle of whiskey.  I argued saying I didn’t stay and drink with them.  This wasn’t a case of binge drinking and partying.  I had two drinks and walked home to the apartment I shared with two other teachers, one male and one female teacher. I wanted to read and go to bed early.

No Sentencing and No Trial:  My Korean friend said none of that mattered.  I drank in public, which few Korean women did, and I was an American.  According to her, my complaint wouldn’t be taken seriously.

When my Korean friend was fourteen years old, she was pulled into a shop, raped, and then pushed back onto the crowded sidewalk to walk home, altered forever.  She said this was common for Korean girls. Maybe her advice wasn’t the best advice, but she was my translator and closest friend.  She was operating based on what she knew at the time, and maybe she understood the police force there.  This Australian woman’s story shows that the Korean police placed more emphasis on the amount of alcohol she had in her system than on the fact that she was raped.   At the time, I was in shock and did whatever my friend said I should do, but I wanted to prosecute.  I wanted a trial. I wanted him to pay for this, but he didn’t.  I wanted to protect other women from him.

Though I didn’t report the rape, I got involved with groups of women in others towns who had been attacked or raped.  I let English teachers in my town know who the man was who raped me.  For the rest of my stay in South Korea, I couldn’t sleep very well.  And then, I was purely and simply terrified. I stayed up most of the night, sometimes meditating for seven hours, ready for the fight that might occur if I needed to fight.   It became apparent I needed to return to the states.  I had no idea I would spend large portions of my life having trouble falling asleep.  Sleep became my trigger.  The bargaining part of grief makes a person try to find a way to avoid the situation.  I believed that if I hadn’t been sound asleep, maybe I could’ve prepared for a fight better.  Logically, this doesn’t make sense, but I thought this for a long while.

Stages of Grieving:  One of the toughest moments to write about in my memoir Healed is the moment I came out of The Rape Crisis Center in San Antonio, Texas and saw a young girl who couldn’t have been more than nine or ten years old with long brown braids on each side of her puffy, tear-stained cheeks.  The horror of what had happened to her immediately entered my body.  I felt the shock, shame, and confusion that she felt, and I wanted to kill the man who had done this young girl.  I’ve never felt more rage in my life than in that moment.

I stormed out of The Rape Crisis Center and turned the radio up loud in my car and drove outside of town to the only deserted place I could find—a quarry.  No one was working at the time, so I pulled my car alongside a caterpillar and walked to the edge.  I picked up rocks and threw them into the quarry and screamed loudly.  I cried and screamed until my voice was hoarse and raspy, and I could barely talk.  I cried for her, for myself, for every victim everywhere on the earth and in all times and places.  I raged and screamed until the sun set, but I felt a little better after that.  Grieving has its stages, and I entered the stage of anger quickly and stayed there a while.  Kickboxing classes, Krav Maga, and one on one self-defense training became part of my healing.

At that point in my life, I didn’t care at all to study spiritualism or try to find a deeper meaning for why this happened.  I only knew that rape was horribly unfair, and I didn’t like how it was altering my life.  I started to realize that part of the reason women struggle to achieve financial independence and freedom is a system that allows that allows women to be victimized and doesn’t make victimizer pay a very high price for their abuse.  Many times, women don’t search out or receive the support they need.  They simply try to move forward, but moving forward proves more complex than they might think at the time.   Situations become cumulative. A year before the rape, two different men stalked and harassed me.  These multiple traumas made it difficult to feel at peace or safe in the world.  For an unbelievable amount of time, I walked through the world always on high alert for danger.   I dated and married the wrong men for greater protection in the world.  Rape was devastating in ways I can’t possibly describe in a blog post.

As I write this post, I know that some people don’t want to hear from victims, and to those people I would like to say again that I never wanted to be a victim.  No victim writes this into the script of her life.  Every fiber of my being wants a different story from the one I have.

After being raped, I was no longer living with one foot in this world and one foot in the spiritual realm.  I was vested much more in the material world and moved away from my spiritual experience.  I needed to rebel in a sense, in order to come back to it and realize how I could’ve loved myself through that experience.

Luckily, I became a teacher and later a college professor.  This profession allowed me to help many students.  Over the years, I met with junior high students and high school students who chose me to confide in when they needed me to report an abuser in their family to CPS.  Countless students have told me about being raped.  I was great in most crisis situations, but I quickly realized that I needed to show them how to heal from this trauma, and I had to learn to heal from it myself.

Love:  Looking back to that time period, I was the one in the most need of love.  I hope everyone can surround the victims in their life with a lot of love.  If you are a survivor of sexual assault and you don’t have that support, I hope you can love and thank yourself for being brave enough to survive.  I hope you can find a group of women who understand and who will support you.  I wish I had continued to go to The Rape Crisis Center and grieved and healed with the women I met there.  Grieving together allows for greater healing.  I realized this with the students who confided in me.

I openly and privately grieved for them.  Now, I can love myself and love others who have experienced trauma.  Now, I can mourn for the students who confide in me, share my best wisdom, and pray for them.  I can warn students who travel abroad to be extra careful and to know each countries laws for foreigners before travelling.  Even the trauma I have experienced has become something I can use to help others.  I am connected to a world of people in a way I never dreamed possible.  Their stories are a part of me, as my story is a part of their lives.

On the other side, I clearly heard the words, “Love is all that matters.”  What I saw was a force of light and love that turned the world to golden sunlight.  All pain was only a shadow of who that person might have been or could be in their future.  In the end, love has shed light and transformed even the most harrowing of my experiences.   Some lessons take a while to play out, but these messages are true.  Love is stronger than fear, than darkness, than all the violence in the world.  Love is what matters.  Love yourself through every life experience and share this love with others so they might heal.  I know this is what the spiritual lesson of trauma reveals.  Loving the world and working together to make it a much safer place for women and children is the answer to the all too frequent violence and injustice.

Binge Drinking and Rape:  In relation to the recent case that has been in the news, high schools, colleges, and families should provide much more education for students about the dangers of binge drinking.  My junior year at UT, I came home from a party and saw my neighbor sitting outside on the steps outside of his apartment.  He had the longest, saddest face I have ever seen on a human being.  I was probably in a good mood and asked, “Why so sad?”  I wasn’t prepared for his answer of “Prison.”

This particular college student had been sentenced to ten years in prison for rape.  He was in a fraternity and blacked out the entire experience.  He didn’t even remember the girl, but he said it was sad and horrifying to hear her descriptions of everything that he had done to her.  He said he felt her pain and deserved this punishment.  He seemed to clearly understand that blacking out can have life altering consequences.  He felt horribly ashamed to have hurt his parents in this way.  He told me not to go to frat parties and not to binge drink.  I didn’t know what to say to him, but I said I hoped he might take never drinking again seriously.  Honestly, I felt sorry for him.  I didn’t want him to not go to prison, but I wished he had not been a part of a culture that accepted and even required him to binge drink.

He seemed like he would be willing to participate in counseling.  I wish all students had lots of healthier options for connecting with others and having a good time.  I would like to see more yoga raves, alcohol free concerts, meditation groups, cooking classes focused on health, and other options for students.  We shouldn’t only teach women not to binge drink to avoid being raped, we should teach men not to binge drink because they might end up in jail or prison as a consequence.  Both males and females are need of healing and education.

The longer I live on this planet, the more people I begin to include in my heart.  I hope that particular young man never drank alcohol again.   I hope Brock Turner never drinks, uses drugs, or objectifies women again on social media or in any way.  The idea that Turner posted the body parts of this girl on a website shows how deeply his brain and many men’s brains are changed because of pornography.  I hope Turner and others like him work to educate other men about the dangers of drug/alcohol abuse and dangers treating human beings like objects for momentary pleasure.

One of my favorite researchers on this topic is Dr. Rober Jensen.   Jensen advises men not to watch porn for a multitude of reasons, including how much of it is trafficked and how porn usage rarely makes for better intimate relationships. I know that the majority of college students want to learn how to love and have healthy relationships.  They want to understand how all these influences are effecting them and what to do in response to live a healthier life.

Healing our World:  Even our worst moments on this planet can be of use and help to others.  I hope Turner’s victim and the U.T. student’s victim found the support they need in order to heal deeply and move forward with their lives.  I hope all survivors of rape, sexual abuse, assault, stalking, and harassment receive the support they need.   Though my story is not just a story about a near death experience and the beauty of the beyond, it is a story I have grown to appreciate.

I am one with every rape survivor in this country and in other countries.  I understand PTSD, though I didn’t at first.   I didn’t want to embrace a community of other survivors at first, but once I did the healing I received multiplied.  I care deeply about the journeys of women I barely know who  have written about their experiences.  We are in this together, and I hope we can help one another heal and make the world a safer place for women.  This means that men and systems are going to have to change in this country and around the world.