Is Darkness/Fear Stronger than the Light/Love?

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Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:15-16

During My NDE:  From the perspective of the spiritual world, all was more light-filled than in this environment.  There was no darkness, only light, beauty, love, and understanding.  Looking down at the earth, it was evident that certain people were clouded by a shadow which appeared to be fear.  Fear sometimes prevented others from opening up to those around them, and that is how I lived before my near-death experience.  I didn’t trust others, having been badly wounded.  I felt jaded in my early twenties, skeptical of others, and closed off.  I didn’t believe in the magic of life or the possibility of spiritual transformation in a single moment until I experienced it myself.

I didn’t spend a lot of my time on the other side examining darkness, but I did clearly see that the light/divine light doesn’t concern itself with darkness and only wants to spread light.  I know that when we say darkness, we sometimes mean evil—the intent to hurt others physically, psychologically, psychically, or otherwise.  It doesn’t matter if people hurt others out of their own pain because plenty of people in the same amount of pain or greater amounts of pain do not spread more pain across the earth.  They either endure their pain or they work to heal their pain and the pain of others.  Though I didn’t spend much time examining darkness, I have certainly seen plenty of it after returning to my body.  Darkness can be expressed in the form of jealousy, envy, rage, lust, anger, bitterness, abuse, etc.  I always think that people should step back from their situations and see the bigger picture when caught up in negative cycles.  For instance, if they could only think about how they might live their lives if they had a day, thirty minutes, or ten minutes left, wouldn’t they choose to enjoy their own life more deeply and not cause harm in the lives of others?

In my personal life, I have seen how another person’s lies and vengefulness can destroy some of my own happiness and goodwill for a time.  As I had to call the police and talk with officials at a D.A.’s office over a particular woman’s harassment, wild accusations, and lies, my world became filled with fear and panic.  However, I learned that detectives and others are insightful and aware of those who are lying.  In the middle of drama, it can feel as if darkness and fear and win,  but it is always possible to return to peace and a light-filled life away from the drama, fear, and darkness of other’s creations.  I know that darkness and fear stays localized and contained.  It does not win in the long-run.  It does not prevail.

Early pioneers in gang rehabilitation brought gang members into hospice centers.  After watching people die, the reality of how short our lives actually became a powerful lesson for some of these young men.  Just as an NDE can change a person’s life forever, the reality of how short our lives are can also change people.  With a short time remaining, who would choose to harm others, cause fear in others, or otherwise do damage on an earth full of beauty and possibility?  Wouldn’t those with this awareness simply enjoy the beauty surrounding them?

Which is More Powerful?  Is darkness more powerful than light?  Absolutely not, but it appears that way sometimes when living in the shadow of fear.  For some reason, the topic of light and darkness brings me back to my childhood roots of Christianity.  Beautiful, poetic passages in the Bible say quite a lot about darkness vs. light, and of course, many people have been comforted by the frequently recited Psalms 23.  This passage tells us that there is no reason to fear anything because our souls can be restored and guided toward righteousness, and “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,/I fear no evil, for You are with me; / Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. / You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; / You have anointed my head with oil; / My cup overflows. / Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, / And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Even from a vaguely scientific perspective (and science is not my background), I have read that light is a particle/wave, and darkness/shadow is the absence of it.  It seems that light wins by existing, being there in the middle of tragedy and in the middle of everything painful in this world.  Light reduces darkness to shadows and specific, localized areas.  Darkness is not more powerful than light, though fear and the intent to cause fear in others can do localized damage.

From an archetypal perspective, I think of light as intellectual illumination.  Perhaps, that is why I love education and teaching.  There is always a possibility that a light will come on in someone’s mind and in someone’s life outside of the classroom.  Sometimes, this light will be the beginning of hope or the possibility of rebuilding one’s life.  Sometimes, light is simply the removal of the fear of the unknown or a decrease in hopelessness and a belief in one’s personal power.

All these perspectives back up my overall understanding of light and darkness when I was outside of my body and examining humanity and the ways we all come together on earth.  There is always misunderstanding between people, and this misunderstanding comes from the shadows of fear and distrust, but light dispels darkness.  It will take a majority of us and an awful lot of light to dispel the fear and anger on this planet, but my work is for the light, for love, and for understanding between people.

Trump’s Vision is Not the Way of Peace:  A NDErs Take on the Rhetoric of the Right

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Trump’s voice is definitely NOT MY VOICE.  I have my own unique voice, thank you very much.  My voice is informed by the beauty and consciousness of the divine light of being.  The rhetoric of the right will never lead us toward a peaceful world.  Fear is not a call to war.  Fear is a call to work harder to create a better world.  When fear crops up in our consciousness, it is a reminder to work towards manifesting the opposite of this fear.  When we fear terrorism, we should work harder towards creating a world with more peace, a world with more resources and opportunities for all people.  When we fear losing our abundance, we should work harder towards making sure that those who have already lost everything can rebuild their lives and live fulfilling lives.  In helping others, we help ourselves.  In condemning others, we condemn ourselves.

Building Walls:  Has an emotional wall built out of fear ever benefited your relationships?  How then, will a wall create a better relationship with our neighboring country?  For every negative story about someone from a particular country or of a particular race who committed murder, there are millions of other stories of wonderful, lovely people from the same race or country doing wonderful, loving things in the United States of America.

Every semester, I meet the young men and women of immigrants, and these children are hard-working, dream-filled, law-abiding, beautiful people.  Their parents sacrificed in astounding ways, sometimes cleaning other’s houses, mowing other people’s lawns, opening restaurants, and often eventually becoming citizens and getting educations themselves.  I know amazing immigrants who have moved to the United States, immigrants who work hard and are sometimes more grateful for opportunities here than people who are born in the U.S.  A wall between the U.S. and Mexico will not make us a better country.  A closer, more understanding relationship with Mexico will create a better world.  Clearer communication with Mexico will create a better world.  That is the Way of Peace.

Other:  There is so much talk of “other” in the rhetoric of the right and in Trump’s speeches.  There is no collective recognition that we are in this life connected to one another, and each decision we make from a place of division instead of unity creates more eventual violence and more trauma.  Have you ever noticed how in the movies that feature aliens, a leader always says something to the effect of, “We must band together as humankind.”  Though we are not facing an alien invasion, it is past time that we work together as humankind, as human beings.

This earth is all of ours, shared by each of us.  Polluting it for one family’s benefit, while poisoning everyone downstream with cancer causing substances is no longer acceptable.  When Trump awkwardly told the LGBT community that he will protect them from foreign radicals, I couldn’t help laughing, even in the wake of the Orlando tragedy.  The LGBT community needs protection from the very party he is running under which is hoping to erase the progress of the decision made by the Supreme Court last summer.  If ever I felt that the Age of Aquarius had dawned, I felt it had in that moment last summer.  Young men and women (sometimes frightened by the hate of our culture) can now love a bit more openly because of that decision.  They can grow up without having to fight in the same way so many others before them had to fight just to love someone.  The LGBT community needs protection from the hateful language of the right and beliefs that sexual orientation can be reoriented through a particular religion.  This is simply inaccurate and a waste of time.

For a community that cares so much about the freedom to bear arms, please leave women’s reproductive choices and the LGBT community alone.  Let people have freedom to choose who to marry and let women decide when to bring a child into this world.  Stock pile your guns.  Don’t use them on doctors and nurses at abortion clinics or on young men who want to kiss one another.  We’ve had enough of that kind of terrorism.

We Cannot Afford to Create Division Anymore:  Trump asserts, “We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore.”  Then, he proceeds to lie over and over again.  The only sport he is winning at is lying and bullying.  What we cannot afford to do is make decisions that are leading us away from the collective recognition of the possibility of world peace.  Ego is not how peace is created.  Imagine two men with very large egos competing for resources.  When they work together to save the lives of their drowning children who are dear friends, they suddenly feel like sharing.  They make a meal together.  They try to create a world that is better for their children, and this world is created through cooperation, empathy, and understanding.  What we cannot afford to do is waste time fighting over resources when we can work towards the creation of a peaceful, abundant, world where no one is enslaved, no one is abused, no one is a pawn—a world where everyone’s creativity and gifts are acknowledged.

My Background Growing Up in East Texas:  As a child I was intuitively and deeply connected to children around the globe, partially due to a series of profound dreams that often left me disoriented and feeling unwell in the morning.  These conscious stretching dreams made me very different from all the family members around me and different from my culture.  I was never impressed by hate for other cultures and countries.  The anger exposed by the Republican Party turned my stomach.  Growing up in a red state, I simply didn’t fit in.  As Reagan was elected and everyone cheered, I thought about all the people on the streets who would not benefit from trickle down theories.  Veterans and others would die to show us the errors of our ways, the greed and fear that reigned.  I worried about global issues without even knowing how I intuitively understood these issues.

As a child and as an adult, I’ve worked to understand how others think and worked to bridge gaps in my understanding and the understanding of others to create peaceful, diverse classroom environments.  Coming from a heart-centered place allows others to relax and preform better in school. This theory can work for larger environments as well.

These profound dreams I had in childhood helped me see that I would be part of an awakening consciousness on earth brought here to help transform the world to a more peaceful, enlightened state.  I am one of many, many people who are waking up, and I am here to tell you that division, anger, blame, and hateful rhetoric disguised as “not politically correct dialogue” is not the way to a peaceful life for you or your children.  That way will not produce the type of movie that makes a crowd tear up with the beauty of the human spirit and the amazing abilities we all have to help one another.

Though you may bemoan the alternative of Hilary Clinton or perhaps you voted for Bernie Saunders and still wish he was on the ticket, please realize that much of your consciousness is effected by what you merely repeat from sound bites.  Though Clinton may not the perfect candidate, but she is more aligned with unity consciousness and has a much better understanding the rights and perspectives of diverse populations of people who reside in the U.S. than Trump.  There is more love in her message than in Trump’s message.  Listen openly.  I speak from a place of openness and heart centered consciousness.  I want the best possible life for all living beings in this country and around the world.  I will be voting for Hilary Clinton.

My Response to #LinkYourLife PROMPT: Fear, Compassion and Community Action

Warning:  Some of the material may be triggering.

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I recently started blogging this year in March, and the experience has been fantastic.  I’ve connected with so many amazing people who are also in the process of writing their stories.  I haven’t yet blogged about some of the more tragic issues in my memoir:  abuse in childhood, my suicide attempt in college before I had the NDE (I woke up in dried vomit 36 hours after swallowing enough pills to easily take me over the edge), hospitalization for depression, facing addiction, escaping a violent marriage, and continuing to work on trust issues in relationships.  I have mentioned the stalkers, but I haven’t blogged about those two sick men.  I blogged about being a rape survivor, and this felt both frightening and then freeing.  No one challenged me for writing about it, but the private responses of friends were not exactly what I expected.  I feel more connected to strangers than to family and friends after writing that post.  Maybe that is the writer’s journey.

I realize my life sounds like a horrible, chaotic mess when I list all the traumas in this way, but largely my life is beautiful.  There is so much joy, so much hope, and so much beauty.  Much of that joy comes from being of service to others.  Many of my students over the years have shared moments of trauma with me, and I have an overwhelming assortment of traumas myself.  I can relate to most anything they share.  If I can’t relate specifically, I have faced enough pain to realize what pain can do to a person and the importance of creating peaceful, healing moments to ground oneself in a new reality.

One of the beauties of teaching is that I forget myself as I work with others.  I wish everyone could experience this amazing forgetfulness. The more I am in motion, asking how I might help others, the more my own pain is lifted away.  Even writing is beginning to do this for me.  As strange as it might seem, writing about trauma releases it at even deeper levels.  Pain shared with others seems to lessen the individual’s pain.

Although complex trauma is part of my story, and I’ve included most of these moments in the first draft of my memoir, my hope is that the book will show others that healing is a long journey, but one that is possible and worthy. I don’t run away from my pain any more.  I feel it.  I release it.  Feeling the pain and all the places that I have been shattered allows for more light to come through me in order to help others.  I am largely healed from much of my past, but like a caterpillar who has emerged from a painful cocoon my wings aren’t completely adjusted to flying.  I have to rest on branches frequently and tell myself that I am a free creature and not one bound up in pain and dependency.

I feel stronger because of all the many women’s stories I have read on various blogs.  I hope that my story of my NDE and how our lives are actually quite short from the perspective on the other side, reminds everyone to enjoy the little, beautiful moments in life, no matter what they are going through.  I hope that my knowledge of angels helps others to call on their guides and angels to help them navigate difficult patches in life.  I hope that if I can overcome what I have overcome, then others feel that they have incredible moments of healing in store for their lives.  After all, the title of my book is Healed, and that healing is past tense.  This does not mean I am completely free from post-traumatic affects.  It means that in my individual experience and journey I am able to live in my present moments with more joy and freedom than I ever imagined possible.  I’m not overwhelmed by my past.  I use it to help others.

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Response to Natalie Sudman’s Book Application of Impossible Things:  My Near-Death Experience in Iraq

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“Religion tells us we’re fundamentally sinners, and science tells us we’re fundamentally aggressive survivors.  My experience in the expanded awareness environments, however, assures me that we’re fundamentally good, holy, cooperative, creative, and amazingly cool.”—Natalie Sudman, Application of Impossible Things:  My Near-Death Experience in Iraq

Natalie Sudman’s experience outside of her body allowed her to connect with a gathering of beings who communicated with her in that added reality in amazing ways.   Her book pays special attention to language and rather than narrating the events of her accident and recovery chronologically, she zeros in on specifics from the moments she spent in the environment outside of her body.

Reality of OBEs and NDEs:  There are many things I enjoyed about this book, including the line in her preface which reads, “…I know—not believe—that what I experienced was real.”   For years, I have said this about my NDE, unmoved and bored by what skeptics have to say.  Though normally impressed with degrees from top-tier schools, I give skeptics zero credit no matter where they obtained their degrees.  After all, skeptics are operating only with their five senses and current theories that very well might change. Mainly, skeptics did not see the added reality that I saw existing along with this reality.

Sudman addresses this topic as well, breaking down the debate from those who rely only on this reality to those who say this reality is the dream and the other reality is the one that is more important.  She says both realities are real, and I couldn’t agree more. Sudman beautifully addresses how much information and how complex and layered this information is when communicated outside of the body.

Communication:  One of my favorite descriptions in her book occurs when she describes how communication in that dimension occurs as a, “…transfer of information in the form of an inexplicable complex matrix.  The information was minutely detailed and broadly conceptual—at once layered and infinitely dense, yet elegantly simple.”  Although Sudman plays around with language, trying to find the exact word to describe the entities, beings, etc. and ultimately decides on personalities, I felt more comfortable calling the beings I met—who sent healing energy into my body—angels.   Sudman met a group of equals, but the angels I met during surgery struck me as filled with much more information, wisdom, and understanding than I had at twenty-one.   My angels were comforting, highly intelligent, and capable.  Perhaps, differing ages, experiences, and mindsets at the time of death might influence who and how we interact with on the other side.

Like Sudman, I wasn’t interested in returning to my body if the injuries were too catastrophic.  Interestingly, Sudman participated in the healing of her own body, outside of her body, with assistance from the beings.  I communicated my wish to be able to walk, and my angels sent light through the back of the doctors, through their hands, and lit up my body, even ensuring that specific bone fragments would not press on my spine.  Whether they altered reality or ensured that the doctors would find these fragments, I do not know.  I only know they participated in my healing while I watched intently.  I have always felt that the angels were teaching me to participate in healing.  I liked reading about Sudman’s level of disconnection and even humor about the moment she and many healing beings worked on her body before she returned to it.

Free Will in the Environment beyond the Body:  Sudman discusses how she has read several NDE accounts, like mine, which feature a light or authority figure telling these souls they must return.  Her experience gave her the free will to return or not.  At first, she felt very tired and did not want to return.  She was given a brief moment of rest in another location, and then based on the communication she received from the gathering decided to return.  I often joke that I need a “thousand year nap,” and I’m a little jealous that it seems like she received an eternal moment of rest before returning to her physical form.

One of Sudman’s theories is that during NDEs with an authority figure telling them to return that “…these individuals retained some habits of perception carried over from the physical waking consciousness beliefs, and the authority sending them back was either a helper or simply their own voice of the Whole Self…”  In contrast, Sudman states that she knew where she was and trusted her experience within the expanded consciousness.

I wouldn’t say that I experienced judgement or superiority from the Divine Light on any level.  I do agree that the light deeply appreciated me.  My experience did contain a bit of compassion, and even though compassion implies a place of superiority or of knowing more that compassion was only a wish that I might love myself more in the human form, treat myself better, love others more fully and without fear.  The light didn’t want me to miss out on potential moments of beauty and saw that I shut myself off from others in college through introversion, fear, insecurity, childhood wounds, alcohol, drugs, and pessimistic views of the world.  My experience with the light did seem as if I had no choice in the matter but to return and teach.  If given the choice, I would not have chosen to return, and I would have missed out on great beauty and amazing moments in and out of the classroom.

Enjoyment of Life:  Like Sudman, I received information that enjoyment of our life experiences is very important.  The gathering of beings showed her this in a multitude of ways.  I was shown that life works better when we are like “little children” in that we deeply enjoy each moment without comparing it to other moments.  After my NDE, I certainly did deeply enjoy life.  Even a eating a candy bar slowing or stopping beneath a tree to listen to a bird singing might throw me into a deep, sensual, happy moment of complete beingness.   Sudman was surprised that enjoyment was an important criteria, but I can’t say that I was surprised.  The wonder of childhood made life all the more magical and enjoyment seems key.  The personalities or beings wanted Sudman to understand that she might enjoy the proposed tasks on the earthy plane.

Toward the end of the book, Sudman talks about how she knew that she would have some use of her right hand and that she would survive the skull fracture even though doctors and staff weren’t certain.  I understand that kind of certainty.  I knew returning to my body that I would walk.  I wasn’t promised a life without chronic pain though.  I was only promised that I would walk, run, and enjoy nature and many of the activities I enjoyed before the accident.  Sudman discusses how the whole self or the self outside the body is less concerned with this life, so detached in fact that the life that will be lived out seems quick from their viewpoint.  As she considers a life with damage to her eye and wrist and considers the many years that she might live with this condition in her body, time now seems much slower.

I especially enjoyed the descriptions of how life is viewed outside in the “blink environment” as she names it verses how it is lived within the human form.  Despite the new limitations, she focuses on enjoyment even of navigating life in a human form with new limitations.  I do that to a degree as well.  Whenever I have to move to a new home, I pack very light boxes since I can’t lift heavy ones.  I get more of a workout carrying more frequent small boxes.  There are ways to have fun, even with limitations. I liked that positive spin, and the realistic acknowledgment that living out this life seems much longer than how it seems on the other side.

Preference of the Other Side:  Many NDErs and those who have had profound spiritual experiences report preferring the other side.  Sudman writes, “…existence beyond the physical is utterly lovely, delicious, and strange, infused with limitless love, richly fulfilling, and euphorically effortless.”  She goes on to talk about how physical life viewed from the other side requires “razor focus” and is also wildly interesting.  I understand the preference of being in the existence beyond the physical.  I have never and probably never will feel limitless love like I felt as I neared the light until I die again. I also understand the many reasons to enjoy this life, and to try to accomplish all that we can connected to the will of our “Whole Self.”  Some people call this the higher self, the self that is not limited by time, space, birth, or death, the self that is capable of calm wise decisions that benefit the self and others.  May we all access or higher selves and whole selves more frequently.

I recommend this book if you are interested in language, in NDEs, in OBEs, and in critical and creative thinking about these types of experiences.

Near Death Experiencers are Making Spirituality as Mainstream as Yoga

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“I believe that the greatest truths of the universe don’t lie outside, in the study of the stars and the planets. They lie deep within us, in the magnificence of our heart, mind, and soul. Until we understand what is within, we can’t understand what is without.” ― Anita MoorjaniDying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing

Liberating Communication:  When I hear people tell me to use cation when talking about communicating with angel guides or hearing messages from deceased loved ones, I look at these people and wonder what rock they crawled out from under.  Haven’t most people heard of Doreen Virtue, James Van Prague, Edgar Cayce, Esther Hicks, Johnathan Edward, Louise Hay, or any of the thousands of writers published by Hay House Press?

When skeptics still talk about NDEs as only the brain shutting down, I wonder if they are starting to run out of excuses as more and more accounts flood in from doctors and surgeons who have had NDEs and as more people come back and verify details happening in the same room, the next room, down the hall, or across the continent or globe.

I’m not speaking my truth in order to counter any religion or belief system.  My hope is that my experiences from the other side help others to embrace basic truths found in most religions. As long as a religion has love as its central message, it does not counter what I experienced of God.  Love is the most important part of life.  Additionally, messages about not harming others and living more fully connected to others and nature are vital.   Little children often know from that essential, heart-centered part of themselves how to love all people and work to end conflicts with others.  Any religion or spiritual teaching that focuses on these truths helps people live better lives.

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

Isn’t spirituality mainstream now?   Hasn’t Oprah featured enough spiritual leaders that many of their messages are now mainstream?  For the past twenty years, I’ve seen countless meditation teachers and spiritual teachers reach levels of national fame.  Possibly my area of the country in Fort Worth, Texas is more conservative than cities I enjoy visiting like Sedona, San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle.  I feel more at home around like-minded people, but I also know that part of my mission as a teacher and college professor in Texas has been to open the minds of young people who might not have a lot of exposure to different ways of thinking.

In the classroom, I don’t spend any time talking about channeling, angels, or such topics.  I might tell my NDE story once if I am asked about it.  I cover the curriculum.  I’m a logical person in love with facts and statistics.   I love literature and reading, and teach American Literature and Creative Writing.  However, many poems and topics in literature allow me to talk about human nature, connection to nature, current issues in society, and personal growth and development. Most people would never know I am channeling.  My voice doesn’t change other than perhaps slowing down for emphasis.  I don’t get a faraway, theatrical look in my eye.  I don’t break into noticeable, off-topic rambling in the middle of lectures.  Sometimes, I catch a student’s eye, and I feel loving guidance prompting me to say something related to the topic we are discussing that might help this person on their journey.  I believe my words can be healing, and this healing can be spontaneous.  Sometimes, I pass a student in the hallway and start a conversation that might help that person.

Many people who are intuitive and can read body language can connect with students in this manner.  I know I am channeling only because I saw angels on the other side send light and healing through my surgeons and into my body.  If angels could work through my surgeons to heal me, I believe they can work through me to heal others.  Also, when I channel, I feel a certain warmth take over my body, and this warmth feels like unconditional love from the other side.   The huge moment of grace I received during my near death experience is something I want to pass on to others in any way that I can.  If my writing helps others feel the love the divine gave to me, then I will keep writing.  If my teachings and lectures help others feel moments of the divine, then I will keep communicating.

“Simply give to yourselves that which you need – which is love and appreciation without judgment.” ― Réné Gaudette

Faith:  As far as my own faith goes, I took a vow as a teacher to “do no harm.”  During the life review portion of my NDE, I was certain that I must try to avoid harm wherever possible and to remind others of the healing power of nature and the importance of loving the innocent, child-like part of themselves.  The light from the other side of this life instructed me to be a teacher, and I am always filled with buoyancy and happiness the minute my feet have stepped onto the campus.  I get excited by the possibility of what information might flow through me from my divine messengers of light.  I never doubted their existence because I witnessed them in action.  I have, over the years, become more sensitive to the process as I receive messages.

Outside of the body, groups of thoughts were sent into my spiritual form all at once.  The spirit body can receive transmissions of information much quicker than the human mind.  If you can imagine the brain as a slower, outdated computer in comparison to the spirit, then you might see how large bodies of information are transferred during NDEs, OBEs, and other moments of spiritual communication.  When I’m given information in the classroom, this information is given usually to help one particular student in need at that moment.  Some messages are general enough to benefit groups of students.  Sometimes, I am only reinforcing ideas students know who are already in an awakened state.  Other times, I see it is impossible to penetrate the fear surrounding a person at a particular time in his or her life.  In those moments, I can only hope that my classroom was a safe environment, and that those students might stretch their wings and shine at a later time in their lives.

It is only due to our concepts that we feel separate from the world. We are isolated by ideas of inadequacy, ideas of danger, ideas of loneliness, and ideas of rejection. While we may indeed face external difficulties, our thoughts can amplify them—or even create them—leading us deeper into delusion. If we do not want to be enslaved by our thoughts, we can choose to transform our minds. In any given moment, do I choose to strengthen the delusion or the truth of connection?-Sharon Salzberg

Beyond the NDE:  When I contemplate the idea of faith, I know that I never doubt the other side and the beauty I saw during my NDE.  Staring down death, I will feel happiness to enter that light-filled, love-filled dimension again.  I do not look forward to aging or more physical pain. I do not look forward to leaving behind people, places, and experiences I love, but I know that love is what we take with us.  Love gets written into the fiber and essence of our being.   We never lose that experience of love.  The pain of this life is washed away, not the love.

I don’t know what comes next after completly merging with the most loving force I’ve ever experienced.  I know that the closer I got to the light in my NDE, the less concerned I was about leaving anything here on earth.  That love was more intoxicating, more satisfying, and more peaceful than any experience I have had.

Channeling:  I don’t claim to have perfect control over my abilities as a channel.  I only know that when I make myself available and of service to others, there is a great chance that angels will communicate through me to specific individuals.  Sometimes, channeling is more like plugging in quickly to a consciousness greater than my own, somewhat like the moments outside of my body when I began to merge with everyone I had ever known.  Greater truths became evident and easier to pick out.

Many great poets, writers, songwriters, and filmmakers certainly have tapped into the collective unconscious and accessed information beyond their own understanding.  That is the magic of art.  When you are open, miracles can flow through you.

All I have are my experiences, my thoughts, and my remembrance of how the angels readily sent me messages with alacrity.  When I experience that particular sensation in this body, I know that I am connecting to the other side.  I have faith that those who speak a message of love for the self, respect for others, understanding of multiple perspectives, earth stewardship, and connection to nature are on a path to quicken the enlightenment of humanity.

“Our eternal spiritual self is more real than anything we perceive in this physical realm, and has a divine connection to the infinite love of the Creator.” ― Eben Alexander, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife

Trauma and Faith:  Although my faith has wavered as I experienced trauma and the hatefulness and delusion of certain people I have come in contact with on my path, I know that time has a way of using even these experiences to help others.  I only have my response, and my response to help others avoid trauma or to add light to their journey towards greater wholeness and health.   It is not my path to reach out to those who have abused and harmed me.  My path is to help those who have been harmed and abused, and to remind them of their light, their beauty, and their importance.

Being a victim does not take anyone away from the love of the Divine; rather, it can bring people closer and remind them of their strength and connection to others.  Trauma, much like profound spiritual experiences, remind us that there is more to life than the body.  Though the body can be harmed and killed, there is something much more beautiful that continues on.  One’s soul releases pain on the other side and only holds on to love.  It makes sense to me to love oneself deeply through every experience, and to extend this love to the moments and people in your life that bring you joy.

Destiny:  I can no longer pretend to agree with others who believe it is professionally or personally unwise to speak my truth.   Although I have free will, I don’t think I can avoid my destiny, and my destiny is to talk about spiritual truths with others.  I believe all messages of love are important. I want to see others feel greater empathy and love for themselves and for others.  Once we all remember our true, eternal, spiritual nature, all fear, suffering, and chaos will disappear from our earth.

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Community College Instructor’s Response to Dallas Shooting

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Seven years ago, I applied for English positions at community colleges across the country.  I had an interview at the El Centro campus in downtown Dallas with a chair who didn’t take the time to read my CV.  Before the interview, she insinuated that I might not be prepared to work with homeless students.  I actually had experience successfully working with homeless students.  I’m glad I got a job down the road at TCC where I have continued to work with homeless students, returning military veterans, women fleeing violent marriages, and thousands of first generation college students, as well as plenty of traditional community college students returning to college or entering after high school to pick up credits before university.  I care about every soul who enters my classroom, and I am grateful for my position.   For these seven years at TCC, I haven’t thought much about El Centro College until the recent events.

On July, 7, 2016 a bomb carried in by a robot killed Micah Xavier Johnson in the El Centro Parking Complex in downtown Dallas just a few blocks from where Kennedy was shot.  Micah Johnson is believed to have been the gunman who shot 12 police officers and killed 5.  I am reminded that all the preparations we make don’t prepare us for unexpected moments of violence.  I don’t know much about Johnson other than the tidbits flooding in—he was an army reservist and served in the Afgan war.  I know that out of his own pain he chose to give pain to others in a shocking way.  I hope we can all turn to this world and use our pain to help the world become a safer place.  I believe a safer world can be created by forming strong, diverse communities of people who work to bring empathy and understanding to the many issues that need to be addressed such as current policies, laws, and systems.  I am deeply saddened that these innocent victims died today, but I know that as they merge with a loving God that they hope a more peaceful world can be created from this moment in time.

College Campuses and Safety: Every day at my beautiful campus, I say a prayer for my students that violence never touches our beautiful space.  Over the last few years, we have become more prepared with escape plans, special 911 numbers specific for our campus, and detailed directions.  In every class, I consider how to keep my students safe if we had an incident on campus.  I always make sure that I know who served in the military because civilian life can become a battle in an instant, and it is good to take guidance from someone with experience. Everyone, including me, prefers the idea of running from an active shooter, but sometimes an event occurs too close and fighting is the only option.

I’m a strong runner, but I’m not able to carry a disabled student to safety because of my back injury.  I make sure I have a plan and alternate plans for all of us.  Some days I consider the possibility of dying, and if I have to die at gunpoint I hope that my death might give a few precious seconds to students who might be able to run away and live.  I’m not afraid to die myself, having had an NDE.  I know that death itself is beautiful, but I also know that physical pain and trauma is horrifying and life changing.  I wouldn’t want my students to associate trauma with college—a place that is usually transformative in kinder, mind-expanding ways.   I also want Micah Johnson’s sister to know that I am a white woman who would give my life to protect hers or any of my students.  I care deeply for their journeys, as if they were my adopted children, regardless of their age or race.  Please know that I exist and want to help heal the problems in this world.  Many more good people like me exist.  We are the norm and not the exception.

Don’t get me wrong about being willing to die to protect my students.  I am by no means suicidal, and because of my NDE I love life to a great extent.  I can and often do experience deep, extended, blissful moments of daily life that remind me I am alive.  Even a good cup of tea can do it for me some mornings.  The reason I do not fear death is that I know that death is a transformation and not an ending.  At the moment of my death, I will feel joy not fear.  I will enter the light-filled, wondrous place beyond the veil with a great inward smile.  I will be going home, again.  If I’m lucky, my transition will be a lovely, meditative one.  If I die suddenly, then I will pop out of this form instantly, look for the angels, and fly towards the light, merging with the consciousness of all.  Dying taught me to live more fully and consciously, but it also taught me how to die extraordinarily well because I have no doubt that the soul goes on.  I hope that my certainty gives others comfort who have lost loved ones.

Dallas Shooting:  I realize that not everyone feels the way I feel about death, and I want to offer deep comfort to anyone who has lost a family member, friend, or acquaintance this year in America to violence of any kind.  Although in theory I like Governor Abbot’s assertion that “Every life matters,” we might not be a country ravaged by violence had we realized the truth of that statement earlier in our history.  Now, we must heal generations of damage and pain with forgiveness and loving solutions.  Civil rights and women’s rights were intensely fought for (fairly recently) in this country and still are fought for to some degree.  Across this nation, black men are dying at astounding rates, not as a reflection of alleged criminal behavior on the part of most who have been killed.  Perhaps, policies and systems are what must be addressed first.  The U.S., under current standards set by the Supreme Court, allow for deadly force in situations that would be deemed unnecessary and illegal under international law.  The call for justice and accountability is important and necessary.

Because every life matters, let’s include everyone in our prayers, every life and recently lost life.  May everyone effected by violence now work to make this world safer for everyone, more awakened, and more filled with love.  For those grieving, it may take a while to get to this place. For all of us as observers, it certainly is not too soon.  Love for every life on this planet will begin to fix the problem.

Unconditional Love:  Unconditional love is what heals us all.  Unconditional love is what I immediately felt on the other side of this life.  Certainly, the life review showed me how I could have been more uplifting and connected to others in certain situations.  I am certain that a life review for a murderer will not be enjoyable.  This person will feel the pain of every person he harmed and the pain of everyone these people knew, and even my pain as I write about him and pray for everyone involved.  He will also have to feel the disappointment of those seeking justice in the Black Lives Matter movement who fear his actions will create setbacks in the goal to change polices and laws which offer greater justice.

I wonder if Micah Xavier Johnson had been a student in my classroom if he might have viewed life and death differently after hearing my story about my near-death experience.  I wonder if he had been in a classroom that was a supportive, diverse community of students if he might have had a different outlet for his anger through communication and activism.  I’m not saying that I’m a miracle worker or education is the answer to all problems, but I am saying that understanding, empathy, and connection to others can sometimes prevent violence.

How do we react to the pain in our life?  That is the deeper question? I challenge everyone to react with a desire to help others.  I’ll end with a tweet from Elizabeth Warren, “Black Americans shouldn’t be killed in routine traffic stops, & police shouldn’t be killed while protecting & serving their communities.”  She is succinctly correct.  Now, what can we each do to create a better, safer world for all lives?

Don’t Fight Change…Become the Light of the World

IMG_1336I was at a satori this evening led by Dr. Jan Holden who spoke about her extensive research on NDEs. I know Jan, and she uses part of my story in her presentation.  I felt blessed to connect with the lovely people there.  It was beautiful to see how Dr. Holden ties together the experiences of children and various adults together in her talk.  One little girl she mentioned talked about how she had to fight negative forces in order to come back into her body during her NDE.  When the researcher asked her how she fought these forces she said simply and poignantly, “With my heart.” The wisdom of children is astonishing.  As forgetful adults, we have so much to learn from them about love.

Negative and Positive NDEs:  The majority of research about NDEs comes from the Western perspective, and largely the focus has been on positive, pleasant NDEs.  I read Dr. Holden’s book, but hearing her reiterate a few major points brought certain messages home for me.  Dr. Holden discussed how some negative NDEs become positive experiences after the soul stops fighting the experience and continues down the tunnel towards the light.  The idea of reluctant souls fighting the dying process and creating their own hell reminded me of how people create their own hells by fighting change here on earth.  They cling to the darkness instead of moving toward the light.

Darkness represents all that they know, and they fear they will no longer be themselves if they embrace change and become one with that change.  Change is freeing though.  It is like breathing after holding your breath and fighting for so long.  Change is an ocean I will always dive into, and feel the gentle waves and the large waves crash over my body.  Can a person be too free?  I don’t think so.

Dallas Shooting:  Tonight as I think about struggle and the pain people create, I cannot help thinking about the tragedy in Dallas which is just down the road from me.  My hope for Dallas is that stronger, diverse communities focused healing will be strengthened and created here.  What everyone needs is understanding and the ability to empathize with one another.  The more safe places there are in this world for people to grieve and understand many different perspectives, the safer this world becomes.  At Barnes and Nobles this afternoon, a wise man said to me, “The majority of police men and women are very good people.  The majority of PEOPLE of all races and nationalities in this country and in other countries are very good people.  Let us not forget this fact.”

Much Goodness: I am certain that the majority of people I interact with are good and kind.  However, the news does not focus on the healers, the activists, the social workers, the teachers, the ministers, the nurses, and the millions of others who live their lives to help others and help this world.  These people exist, but we do not see their stories broadcast across their airwaves.  They exist and you know they do.

I want to turn my focus to a solution that brings people together to send so much love and understanding into this world that injustice against any living being is impossible.  This is my goal for our planet.  I know that so much love and beauty is around us at all times in the hearts and minds of others.  Reach out with the intention to heal this world, and you will find goodness all around you.

Be the Divine: At the end of my NDE, I was told to come back to the earth and work as a teacher. I have known for a while that teaching in a traditional format will not be the only type of teaching I will do in my lifetime.  The study of literature naturally opens up topics that allow me to discuss my near death experience, and for years, I have reminded students to be the light of the world as they journey from my classroom.  I love my job, but I feel a change entering my life, and I will not fight it.   I’m smiling at it, and bekoning it closer.

I hope to remind more people than the many students who have flowed through my classrooms of their light, power, and purpose. The darkness, engrained patterns, and anger will struggle against the light, but only for a while.  Like the forgetful souls who struggle against the dying process only to remember that they are going home, going deep into the embrace of the most blissful, loving force they can imagine, we are on the verge of a great societal change.  Struggle is a form of hell.  Embrace change.  Become a great force of love and light.  I have the power to heal, and so do you.

Go to the Light:  When I think of those forgetful souls struggling against the dying process and creating hell for themselves, I have to thank Saturday Night Live for this brilliantly funny skit about a negative NDE. Don’t struggle people.  You will only make it harder for yourselves.  Go to the light!  And, sometimes, humor is the light.

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Loving Feminist

IMG_1221Although there is plenty of injustice and violence toward women that goes unpunished or under punished in this country and around the world, the idea of feminism can be approached from a soul’s perspective and from a loving perspective.  “Angry” feminist is not the only type of feminist.  Roxanne Gay extended the discussion of feminism in an engaging, interesting way in her book Bad Feminist.  Gay examines familiar, cultural topics in brave, thought-provoking, and sometimes amusing ways.

Fourth Wave Feminism:  I consider myself part of the fourth wave of feminism as an activist, writer, and professor who wants to ensure that women are safe in this world.  Take Back the Night and One Billion Rising are great organizations to check out if you want to become involved in supporting women’s rights.  I have the strong belief and faith that all of my students–male and female–want to end violence against women, and they want to know what they can do to combat gender violence.

When you see everything that happens in our world from the soul’s perspective, you see that everything happening in reality has the opportunity to help us all evolve and grow.  Even painful moments in reality can be used to make positive changes in our world.  For instance, cases like Brock Turner’s six-month sentence for rape or the cover-up of cases at Baylor University can bring healing to the world as more people start working to change our world and make it safer for women.  Since these recent events, more women are talking about their experiences with stalking, rape, and assault and bringing these issues more clearly into the light.

After writing about my story about rape in a foreign country, I am certain that changes will eventually occur in South Korea for foreign teachers.  A recent story in the news is bringing more attention to the police force in Korea and the rape culture in that country. Part of the evolution and change needed is the reeducation of the South Korean police force about how to process and understand the cultural differences they might encounter when working with English teachers from England, the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  If the Korean police force changes how they react to rape, assault, domestic violence, and harassment charges for Korean women as well as foreigners, Korea will make a huge leap forward in consciousness.

The Necessary Evolution of our Culture:  As more people share their experiences of rape, assault, and stalking, a natural shift towards prevention and reeducation will occur at college campuses.  Victim blaming will greatly diminish as more victims share their perspectives.  Victims of harassment, stalking, sexual abuse, and rape are not rare; rather, they are common.  For years, we heard 1 in 7 women were raped.  New studies report that 1 in 5 women have been raped.  As greater numbers of men realize how common these problems are, more men who are not abusive will stand up for women, protect women, and work to reeducate sexist and abusive men around them.

Role models of men who work to end sexism and gender violence will become more common.   Whenever I show this particular Ted Talk video by Jackson Katz, my students are open to his message.  Jackson Katz is a pioneer in the discussion of gender violence, and he reframes domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape as male issues not women’s issues.  He encourages men to play an active role and not a passive role with other men who engage in sexist or abusive behavior.   Mostly, Katz combats victim blaming by changing the focus of the discussion from asking why “she” is a battered woman to asking, “Why is domestic violence still a big problem in the United States and all over the world? What’s going on? Why do so many men abuse, physically, emotionally, verbally, and other ways, the women and girls, and the men and boys, that they claim to love? What’s going on with men? Why do so many adult men sexually abuse little girls and little boys? Why is that a common problem in our society and all over the world today? Why do we hear over and over again about new scandals erupting in major institutions like the Catholic Church or the Penn State football program or the Boy Scouts of America, on and on and on? And then local communities all over the country and all over the world, right? We hear about it all the time. The sexual abuse of children. What’s going on with men? Why do so many men rape women in our society and around the world? Why do so many men rape other men? What is going on with men? And then what is the role of the various institutions in our society that are helping to produce abusive men at pandemic rates?”  

Too often our culture and media focuses on the negative and stories about some of the worst characters in society.  These characters become a part of our consciousness.  One of the many things I love about higher education is the opportunity to focus on people and stories that uplift our spirits, people who are doing great things in this world, people who are working to heal this world.  Why not focus on solutions?  Jackson Katz  offers men a list of ten things that can be done to prevent gender violence.  I’ve copied the list below.

TEN THINGS MEN CAN DO TO PREVENT GENDER VIOLENCE

  1. Approach gender violence as a MEN’S issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. View men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers
  2. If  a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner — or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general — don’t look the other way. If you feel comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. Or if you don’t know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. DON’T REMAIN SILENT.
  3. Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. Don’t be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
  4. If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help.
  5. If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, or sexually abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help NOW.
  6. Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women’s centers. Attend “Take Back the Night” rallies and other public events. Raise money for community-based rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters. If you belong to a team or fraternity, or another student group, organize a fundraiser.
  7. Recognize and speak out against homophobia and gay-bashing. Discrimination and violence against lesbians and gays are wrong in and of themselves. This abuse also has direct links to sexism (eg. the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned, a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them. This is a key reason few men do so).
  8. Attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about multicultural masculinities, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence.  Educate yourself and others about how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.
  9. Don’t fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any Web site, or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. Protest sexism in the media.
  10. Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men’s programs. Lead by example

Copyright 1999, Jackson Katz. www.jacksonkatz.com
Reprint freely with credit.

Loving Feminist:  Although there are plenty of reasons for women to be angry, and women tend to see this more clearly the longer they live and the more they live through, there are also ways to approach feminism from a place of healing and a place of love.  I am a woman who loves and believes in each of my students.  I care about their success and their empowerment.  Because I care deeply about my students, I know that they respect my journey as well.  In my lifetime, I have faced sexist teachers, a couple of sexist professors, a few sexist employers, two stalkers, one rapist, and a violent first husband.  Despite these encounters, I love men and believe in their basic goodness.  I believe that as a whole men are generous, protective, gracious, brave, intelligent, kind, hilarious, and strong.

As a woman who loves men, I ask that men do their best to protect the women they know and come in contact with at work, in their families, and in random places.  This protection might be as simple as pulling out your phone and calling the police as a way to diffuse a moment of domestic violence episode you observe in the world.  I don’t recommend directly jumping in and risking your well-being.  Perhaps you might find the strength of character to talk to an acquaintance calmly about sexist or abusive behavior. Maybe you will simply say a prayer for all living beings to find peaceful ways of interacting with one another.

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For men who have been victims of other men’s violence as a child, teen, or later in life, I pray for your quick, deep, profound and permanent healing.  I also hope that you might be moved to work in whatever way you can to end gender violence.

For every woman who reads this, may your future be cleared of any violent acts against you.  If you have been victimized in any way may you find quick, deep, profound and permanent healing.  You are stronger than you realize because you are an amazing survivor.   May you also drop competitive behavior with other women and support them.  Use your strength to support other women and work in whatever way you can to end gender violence.  And remember, you are stronger than you realize.  I am sorry that your journey has been so difficult, but evolution of our culture and consciousness is more than possible.  It is probable.

Special Note:  For any woman who is currently being abused, know that the best thing you can do is to leave that abusive relationship in a safe, planned out way.  Start talking to everyone who can help you–police officers, social workers, shelters, friends, neighbors, teachers, professors, nurses, doctors, family members, ministers, therapists, etc.  Don’t stop talking until you get the help you need and get away from that situation.   It is not in your best interest to stay.  You are not the one who will most likely facilitate the change that he needs to undergo.  You are the last person he will listen to because he abuses you.  He might start listening to other people and get the help he needs when he no longer gets away with abuse.

By no means is violence limited to men.  Certainly, many women are violent to their children, to family members, to other women, and to intimate partners.  Years ago, I heard a shaman say that power would eventually shift to women, but women must be careful not to make the same mistakes as men with their power.  For anyone involved with an abusive woman, the same advice applies.  Talk about her abuse to everyone and anyone who can help.  Report her crimes, leave her, and pray she finds a community of people who will help her evolve and change.

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