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Posts Tagged ‘human spirit’


Cathedral of Cusco

I remember the moment as if it were yesterday. We were walking through the main square of Cusco, Peru, towards the majestic Cathedral glistening in the afternoon sun, when Danielle said to me, “It’s all perfect Jeannie. You are simply in the gestation period, things are incubating. You are getting ready to have a rebirth.” Who is Danielle and to what on earth was she referring? Danielle Hougard was the Anusara Yoga teacher who was leading me on my first ever yoga retreat. But she was not just any yoga teacher. Danielle is one of those special “Earth Mother” types, the type of woman who exudes love and motherly instincts from every cell of her body, the type of woman who is truly in touch with her intuition, the Spirit of Earth and Sky, and the energies of every living creature around her. This is a wise women who just seems to “know” things, and somehow when she says them you just know that you can trust her.

Danielle was responding to my story of how my life had fallen into ruins: I had moved across country to fight for love, only to find myself rejected and abandoned. If that wasn’t enough I had arrived at the beginning of the recession and was thrust headfirst into months of unemployment. Running out of money and desperate for work, I was compelled to take a minimum wage job at a retail store. It was depressing enough that I had gone from a successful, high-paying management career in Washington, DC, to making minimum wage, but in the depths of my own heartache, I was now forced to endure hundreds of happy couples strolling about arm in arm as the irritating Christmas carols pumped out incessantly through the loudspeakers of the shopping mall. But worst of all, every day I lived in fear that the man who had broken my heart would stroll in with HIS new girlfriend on his arm. This was my rock bottom. If there is a Hell on Earth, this was definitely it.

Fortunately through a stroke of “luck,” I was finally able to find a “real” job. Things were looking up, I could finally leave my minimum wage job and get back to building my career….Or so I thought. Sadly my luck would not last and I was laid off several months later, and found myself yet again in a period of protracted unemployment. So here I was in Peru, six months after having been laid off and I hadn’t had a single bite to the hundreds of resumes sent. My life was completely stagnating. I was having no luck on the job front, no luck on the love front, every cell in my body ached and mourned for the loss of my best friend, and I was depressed to the point where I did not want to get out of bed in the morning. The only thing I could feel in my life was a palpable feeling of stagnation. I was completely stuck.

Danielle’s response to this story was a friendly smile and a reassuring nod, telling me that everything I had just described was actually “PERFECT,” that although on the surface it felt like things were stagnating, that actually behind the scenes there were forces at work, and that I was simply in the gestation period…that I was simply getting ready for a powerful rebirth. Though to my rational (and depressed!) mind this sounded a little bit unusual and way too good to believe, the certainty with which she spoke these words gave me a momentary peace. I prayed that she was right.

By now you may be wondering what I was doing in Peru after the story I just described and given my obvious state of unemployment. Well, call me a risk-taker, but when life gets really dark and gloomy, that’s when something deep inside of me says “SCREW IT” and propels me to go do something incredible and adventurous, to try to drag myself reluctantly out of the muck. All of my life I had dreamed of going to Peru. When I was in high school Spanish class, my teacher would show us pictures of Machu Picchu and I just knew that I had to go there one day. So when I found myself in the midst of my “dark night of the soul,” and completely stuck, I knew I had to do something to try to unstick myself.

Several days after walking through that square in Cusco, we found ourselves on the very tip-top of Huayna Picchu Mountain, high above the breath-taking, mind-boggling and awe-inspiring creation that was Machu Picchu. This masterpiece defied human logic and comprehension. Its ruins were perfectly intact, each of its thousands of individual stones stacked so flawlessly and at such exquisitely engineered angles that they would remain intact and stable for hundreds of years of enduring the elements. There are honestly not any words I could ever use to adequately express what it felt like to be standing up there at 8,920 ft, literally on top of the world. As I looked around us, I was overcome with goosebumps at the beauty of the jagged, majestic mountains that shot dramatically up into the heavens, hugged and nurtured by the blankets of fog. If there was a God, he/she was certainly here. I felt the great Spirit of the Earth in the wind that whispered into my ears, in the Sun that warmed my back, and in the solid stone beneath my feet, stones that had held the weight and cradled the souls of hundreds of thousands of humans across the centuries. I was awed to my core. Standing up here at this great height, surrounded by the magic and mystery of Mother Earth, I knew I was being supported.

Me on top of Huayna Picchu Mountain, with Machu Picchu far below

At the end of our 10-day journey, completely moved and humbled by the Grace, beauty and humility of the Peruvian people, we returned home to the States, and I back to the chains of stagnation in Los Angeles. The minute I touched down in Los Angeles, I knew I had to leave. I am a stubborn person. And because I loved Los Angeles and felt a profound spiritual connection with her, I had previously been determined to stay there, despite the fact that the signs seemed to point elsewhere. But now the Universe had given me a breadcrumb to follow. You see, this yoga group, led by this sweet soul Danielle, was actually from San Francisco, and I only found them through an “accidental” twist of fate through a web search. Nobody on the trip could figure out why I was staying in Los Angeles after the horror I had described. They encouraged me to move to San Francisco. Considering that my life was completely stagnant and that I had already lost everything of importance that I could possibly stand to lose, I decided it was time to break free of my prison.

This is when Grace took over. Only five days after moving to San Francisco, for what was intended to be a one-month temporary sublet to test out the waters, a job offer had fallen unexpectedly into my lap. Over the weeks that followed, I frantically looked for a permanent apartment in San Francisco, searched desperately for someone to take over my lease in Los Angeles, packed up my entire one-bedroom apartment in 24 hours and drove the entire load, by myself, the six-hour drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and then started my new job the next day. Just like that, my life had shifted dramatically. Danielle’s words about an impending “rebirth” were ringing in my ears. But what I didn’t know was that this was just barely the beginning. I was only in the earliest contractions and still had over a year of “labor” ahead of me.

17 months later, after months and months of undue stress and anxiety in my corporate job, I was let go. Bowled over by the unexpected blow, I picked myself back up and threw myself immediately back into the job search. But the minute I did so, another breadcrumb was laid down for me. I had written my very first blog post, about my journey of healing through yoga, and it had felt good. But not only did it feel good, it got a good response. Somehow, as if in a daze, I suddenly found myself with my own blog and I began writing. Never having had any interest in being a writer, it was as if a higher force had suddenly taken over and was simply pulling my puppet-strings and moving me along a new and unexpected path. But this path felt right.

Now only eight short months since losing my job, I have over 20,000 beautiful, bilingual fans in 35 countries around the world, my work has been published in several different publications, I am now a regular contributor to Elephant Journal, writing in both English and Spanish, I’m about to be featured in Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Magazine, and I have just completed and submitted my very first book proposal, with the hope that I will soon be a published writer. I couldn’t have imagined this dramatic turn of events in my life even eight months ago when I lost my job. In fact almost daily I look back and scratch my head with delight and wonder. But there would be no way in my wildest, craziest dreams that I could have imagined this, as we walked through that square in Cusco talking about my impending “rebirth.”

A few weeks ago we had a reunion from our Peru trip, now just past the two-year mark since we took our trip, and I was reminding Danielle of this moment from Cusco. Danielle then told me something that I hadn’t yet known, something that made this entire experience even more unbelievable and magical to me: the name Cusco means “navel of the Earth.” Danielle had been right, I was in the gestation period and I was getting ready for a “rebirth.” What I hadn’t realized was that I had to go to Cusco, the “navel of the Earth,” in order for the “rebirth” to begin…

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It is an age old question: is the soul eternal? Mankind has been asking this question since the beginning of time, throughout all civilizations, all around the world. So who am I to try to answer such a question? I am just a simple girl who has had some pretty extraordinary experiences. One such experience occurred in June of 2008 in Southern California.

I was in San Diego working at a convention and I was sad, incredibly sad. I had just learned that the man I loved had moved in with the woman with whom he had replaced me, virtually instantly. I was devastated, absolutely gutted. It was painful enough that he had replaced me so quickly, but this had been the best friend I’d ever had in my life, and he had callously cut me from his life and broken off all contact, as if I’d never meant anything to him at all. To learn that he had now moved in with her was just the proverbial icing on the cake, on a very dark and disgusting cake.

I could not function. Here I was at this conference booth, dressed up in my sharp suit, trying to sell our product to whomever walked by…but I was just going through the motions. My head was entirely elsewhere and as I had just learned this painful news, I was quite nauseous and unstable on my feet. I decided that I needed a nap: the kind of nap where you just disappear into the mattress, where you fall heavily into an alternate reality and forget about the waking world, even if only for a short time.

The afternoon break came and I immediately went back to my hotel room and sank into the bed and cried. It hurt so badly. “Will this pain ever go away?”, I asked myself. Of course I’d been through heartache before in my life, this was certainly not the first time. But this was by far the most profound, the most life-altering and I could sense that it was a grief that I would carry with me forever. I tried to cry myself to sleep….

…Suddenly I was at the foot of the bed, looking back at myself sleeping. I was initially confused. “How can I be seeing from over here if my body is over there?”, I asked myself. “How can I be looking back at myself?” I asked myself if I was dreaming. “No! This is definitely not a dream. I am more awake, more lucid than I’ve ever felt.”, I exclaimed to myself. I looked around the room and saw all of the reminders that I was in fact in my hotel room: I saw my suitcase on the floor, my shoes by the side of the bed, and I saw my body sleeping in the exact position in which I knew I had fallen asleep, with my left arm tucked under my head. I looked down at myself where I was…I was floating!

In that instant it hit me… I was outside of my body! I was having my very first Out of Body Experience. Now, all of my life I had believed in this sort of thing, it is not something I had ever questioned. Whenever I’d read stories about other people having OBEs (Out of Body Experiences) and near death experiences, and read the similarities between all of the different stories around the world, I’d never had any doubt of their veracity. I’d always found it fascinating and intriguing. But it never occurred to me that this could happen to me.

What happened next would blow me away. I floated over to my sleeping body and I began stroking my hair. I said to myself, to the me sleeping in the bed, “Don’t worry Jeannie, everything is going to be ok.” The physical me began to cry and at that moment I swept back into myself and BOOM: I woke up in the bed, tears pouring down my face.

I immediately knew what had happened: my higher self had given me a message of comfort that day, a message of higher truth. I was speechless… But not only was I speechless, I was elated. Before I had gone to sleep, I had been devastated beyond all belief, and while that pain was still very much alive, I had just discovered something so much greater, something that made that pain virtually irrelevant, and something that I knew would change my life forever. I had just confirmed for myself that the soul is eternal, that our physical bodies are merely a vessel and that when this body breaks down, our soul lives on and goes elsewhere. I simply knew this with 100% certainty.

People have asked me if perhaps it could have been a dream, and I know some people will read this and think that. And as you read, that was the first thing I asked myself when I realized what was happening. All I can say is that anyone else who has experienced an OBE will know with 100% certainty that it was not a dream. There is no greater lucidity, no greater alertness than you feel during an OBE. You feel an incredibly heightened sense of awareness and knowing, far greater than you feel in the waking world. On top of that, you feel an incredible amount of peace, a lightness and a Universal love. You can feel that you are connected to and part of something greater.

Whatever was going on in my physical life, whatever painful emotions I felt, I knew that from that moment on, my life would never be the same again. I now knew that I was part of something greater, some elaborate and intricate scheme (whatever it may be), and that my soul was eternal. I now knew that my body was just that, a body, and that the soul would continue living on after this life. Armed with that knowledge, I know that I can walk through my life on this Earth and I can experience everything from a much higher place of awareness. I can handle anything that comes my way, for I now know how fleeting, how temporary it all is, and how small our human problems really are in the grand scheme of things. I now have a higher vision, and with that…. peace.

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