According to ancient spiritual teachings, souls incarnating as human beings are granted individual destinies on Earth, giving us each the opportunity to express our innate wisdom, love, creativity and power in this physical world. Having a history of previous incarnations on this planet, each of us are also born into a particular set of karmic relationships and fated experiences based on choices made in prior lifetimes or based on lessons that we wanted to learn this time around.
We can think of destiny as one’s highest potential or divine plan – a seed of potential that the universe plants within us at the time of conception. We nourish our destinies when we make the most of the talents and opportunities that are designed into our individual human plan and when we are able to navigate our karmic experiences or fate, as alchemists – by allowing these challenges to transform and evolve us instead of crush us.
Another way to think about it, is to visualize fate as a structure or a trellis. The plant has the freedom to grow up and through and around the trellis in different ways, and it has the freedom to only grow so high or to grow all the way up to the top and beyond (destiny). Within the structure of fate, we make choices, and those choices either nourish our destiny or they don’t.
Here in this physical realm, there are many distractions that occupy our attention, efforts and energy. With infinite patience the universe allows us to manage our lives using our free will. Occasionally, because of certain fated events, our lives are interrupted, usually by a major personal loss or health crisis. Often, it is only in our darkest hours, that we remember to ask the important questions: Who am I…why am I here…and what am I doing about it? 1
These extremely trying and confusing experiences, although rooted in fate, also serve as potential catalysts to our higher destinies. They are opportunities to temporarily withdraw from the fast pace of our lives to develop a deeper awareness of another reality beyond the physical world and a higher purpose for being here on this planet. When I was confronted with a serious health crisis that was unresponsive to both conventional and alternative medicine (including acupuncture, which was my profession at the time), I was forced to re-evaluate my path and find the deeper purpose in this shocking curve-ball from the universe. After exhausting many treatment modalities with no progress, I began to research the fields of psychic healing, shamanism and parapsychology. I discovered fascinating examples of individuals who faced intensely painful and frightening physical challenges with an open mind and a determined spirit. They allowed these devastating twists of fate to awaken their creativity and found themselves transformed, empowered and healed as they realized so much more about their true potential.
Several incredible healing stories which all involved serious damage to the leg, especially caught my attention, because the neuro-muscular function of my own leg was severely affected by a condition diagnosed as reflex sympathetic dystrophy. The pain and dysfunction was spreading and had caused one of my calf muscles to become paralyzed. The first story I came across was reported in Psychology Today and Yoga Journal. It was about a 21 year old man named Mitchell May, who was told by a team of UCLA surgeons that his leg was unsalvageable and must be amputated. During a head-on auto collision, May’s leg had been broken in 40 places and large chunks of muscle and skin were missing. His leg was deeply infected, his life was at risk and the doctors insisted that he would never walk on two legs again. May couldn’t imagine a life without his leg and refused to let the surgeons amputate. His mother contacted the parapsychology department at UCLA in a desperate attempt to find some other option and was put in touch with a healer named Jack Gray.
Jack Gray was raised in the Jewish mystical tradition known as Kabbalah, and used energy healing, hypnosis, chanting and prayer to perform countless healings that were being researched at UCLA. He visited May in his hospital room daily for an entire year, performing energy healing on him and teaching him to enter altered states of consciousness through meditation and hypnosis. He taught May to direct energy through his body, to use active visualization, to leave his body consciously and to turn pain signals off with his mind. He also helped May to alter his belief systems that were causing blocks to his healing. He used techniques that drew upon “etheric forces” to generate matter in the form of new healthy muscle, nerve and bone tissue in May’s leg.2 This regeneration of tissue, considered impossible by western science, was fully documented by X-rays and consulting medical physicians.3
After two years, May was able to walk again with a brace. He became Jack Gray’s apprentice, continued to learn and heal and eventually returned to hiking, dancing and rock climbing. In an interview for Yoga Journal, May described how this health crisis led him through a spiritual transformation as he explored a realm beyond regular physical perception. “We would work for hours on end in expanded states of consciousness… Jack exposed me to a field of energy that will almost burn you up if you don’t change. He had to teach me to deal with my fears, my ego games, so that I could enter that energy field.”4 Jack asked May to carry on his teachings when he passed. With a deeply personal experience of the mysterious and extraordinary potential of the human being, Mitchell May walked forward into his higher destiny as a healer and teacher, helping thousands to expand their awareness and access their true healing potential, while creating more joy and freedom in their lives.
Not long after I read Mitchell May’s story, my chiropractor told me about a highly respected shaman who was visiting from South Africa, named Dominique. She had a very busy schedule, was flying back home that Sunday, and I was unable to get in to see her. I went to bed that Saturday night feeling sad that I had missed the opportunity. Early the next morning, I woke up to my phone ringing. When I answered, there was a woman with a South African accent asking for me. She said “This is Dominique, I woke up this morning thinking that I was not going to see any clients before I fly home today, but your guides are here telling me otherwise. Can you get here soon?”
I arrived at the house where she was staying and found her in the front yard garden. She was a very healthy, beautiful woman in her late 40’s or early 50’s. She brought me into the house and began to tell me very specific details about my personal life and my past that she had no way of knowing. She spoke of my guides in the spirit world and how they wanted me to understand that this health crisis was a blessing, that I would not have reached the goals that I had planned for this incarnation if I had continued on my path without it. She said that in the future, I would be writing. I asked her “about what?” She answered “It feels like you have a different way of doing things or a different way of thinking about things, you will be bringing through juicy information.” She noticed the expression of disbelief on my face, looked into my eyes very seriously and said, “You will be doing this. It may not be for several years, but you will be doing this.” Then she added, “Once you are able to shift your perspective, and see this deviation from your path as a blessing, rather than a curse, you will walk again without pain.” On my way home, I thought over every word she had spoken. I felt gratitude for her and for these “guides” who apparently had been observing the ups and downs of my life and were very interested in helping me navigate it all, but I still had no idea what I could possibly be writing about in the future. I didn’t like to write, I found it laborious…and I had no idea what this “juicy information” could be, but I was intrigued and I had a stronger sense of hope.
Motivated by my session with Dominique and by Mitchell May’s inspiring story, I committed to a daily self-hypnosis and meditation practice. Several months into this routine, I began to experience shifts in my awareness of my own nature. While meditating, my consciousness would temporarily exit the state of fear and hopelessness that I had become accustomed to during my health crisis, and expand into a realm where I felt absolute peace, contentment and a sense of the vast, powerful and eternal nature of my soul. At this stage of my path, a holistic practitioner who had studied under Hawaiian medicine women was explaining to me the concept of “shamanic soul retrieval” and spoke the right words to me at just the right time. She said, “The medicine women told me that every part of your body has its own consciousness or its own soul, even the little finger.” The idea suddenly occurred to me to experiment while in a deep state of meditation, by talking to my leg as if it were its own being, with its own consciousness who could hear and understand me.
That same night, after shifting into an altered meditative state, I began my first conversation with my leg, as described in my previous article, Your Cells Are Listening, How Talking to Your Body Can Help You Heal. After about one hour of this focused communication, tissues suddenly and boldly began to move and glide under my skin, peeling apart layers of scar tissue. Nerves vigorously fired through the area, ordering my calf muscles to respond with flexion and extension exercises. Strong waves of energy that felt raw and primal rushed through my body – something I had never felt before. Lying there in my bed, stunned and mesmerized by these sensations and physical reactions, I fully surrendered to the experience. This process carried on for what seemed like more than 2 hours. I began to feel tired and hungry. I took a deep and reverent breath before standing up, anticipating what it would feel like to walk on this newly reorganized leg. As I walked to the kitchen, the function and strength of my calf muscle was dramatically improved. After a series of these conversations, I was able to completely restore normal function to my leg. From the first moment this raw, creative, healing force awakened within my body, I thought of Dominique and what she had told me. I knew that I would be sharing this story with others who were ready to realize their own innate healing abilities. I continued to explore the fascinating realm of deep meditation and eventually shifted my professional focus to hypnotherapy and meditation instruction.
Recently, I came across another amazing healing story on Huffington Post. The article stated that Phakyab Rinpoche, a high ranking Tibetan Buddhist lama, had developed gangrene in his leg while imprisoned in China for his religious beliefs. He eventually escaped to India, then emigrated to the United States. Orthopedic surgeons in New York City told him that the infection was too severe and his leg must be amputated. Rinpoche asked his mentor, the current Dalai Lama for guidance before going forward. The Dalai Lama instructed him to reject the surgeons advice and instead practice the tsa lung form of meditation he had learned in the monastery, and to use certain mantras and visualizations. Rinpoche practiced these techniques for twelve hours each day. The black liquid that was oozing from his leg gradually turned cloudy, he experienced bruising and swelling and a temporary increase in pain. After nine months, the liquid flowing out of his wounds turned from cloudy to clear, and the swelling diminished. After twelve months he was able to walk without crutches, the gangrene was cured, and as an additional benefit, the Rinpoche’s diabetes and tuberculosis were now gone as well. Because Gangrene infection of this severity cannot be cured by the western medical approach, New York University asked Rinpoche to allow them to run tests on him to learn more about his surprising recovery. Phakyab Rinpoche is now embracing his higher destiny as a public figure and teacher and is publishing a book about his remarkable healing journey.5
During the course of my own research and healing, I listened to a radio interview that deepened my insight into these conscious healing forces of nature that surround us and live within us. The man being interviewed was named Stephan Schwartz, a parapsychology research associate for the government-sponsored Cognitive Sciences Laboratory. He told the story about a shamanic healing ritual that he witnessed at the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.), a non-profit organization founded by the famous Christian mystic and psychic, Edgar Cayce. Schwartz had been invited by Edgar Cayce’s son, Hugh Lynn, who asked Schwartz to pick up their guest, a middle aged Native American shaman of the Cherokee and Shoshone tribes, from the Greyhound bus station. The man went by the name Rolling Thunder; he was a well known medicine man, teacher and activist. Bob Dylan organized a series of concerts in honor of him called The Rolling Thunder Revue and the Grateful Dead named an album after him. The road from the bus station back to the A.R.E. traveled along the edge of a state forest. Schwartz was surprised when Rolling Thunder suddenly asked him to stop the car. The shaman got out of the vehicle, grabbed his bag and said “what time do I have to be there tomorrow?” He asked Schwartz to bring two beef steaks to the ritual, then he disappeared into the woods.The next day, 40 doctors had gathered behind the A.R.E. building to witness the healing, when Rolling Thunder emerged from the woods. He walked up to Schwartz and asked him to build a fire. Two ambulances pulled up and a young male patient, around 20 years old, with a large open leg wound involving severely torn muscles was carried out on a gurney. He was noticeably in much pain and his doctor and parents were with him. A massage table was set up next to the fire and the patient was placed on top. Rolling Thunder asked Schwartz to unwrap one of the steaks and throw it on the ground. From his bag, the shaman pulled out a raven’s breast with an attached wing. He began to chant and wave the raven’s wing above the patient with gentle stroking movements. As Rolling Thunder moved, a white mist started to form around him, about 6 to 8 inches from his body. Schwartz, at first thought he was the only one who saw this, but as the mist started to take the shape of a canine animal, he heard gasps from the crowd. Rolling Thunder would periodically shake the raven’s wing toward the steak on the ground. After a while Rolling Thunder stopped and the mist began to dissipate. The doctors gathered around to examine the patient, who was lying there almost like he was in a trance. The wound was gone and in its place was fresh pink, shiny skin, similar to what you see when a scab is removed. According to Schwartz, the doctors were dumbfounded, and one of them began to laugh uncontrollably. The young patient, his doctor and parents went back to the ambulance.
The Shaman motioned for the other steak and then the next patient was carried out of the second ambulance and placed on the massage table. He was another young male with a similar leg wound, and his mother and doctor were with him. Rolling Thunder began the stroking movements again, and the mist started to form around him, only this time it would partially form and then dissipate over and over again. He eventually stopped and walked over to Hugh Lynn Cayce and said “I can’t do it, this boy’s mother will not allow it”. Then there was a huddle and the young patient’s doctor came over, and Hugh Lynn asked what the situation was with the mother. The doctor said “Well it’s true what he’s saying, this boy was very independent and she has been losing contact with him. Now he’s back in her control and she can take care of him like she did when he was a little boy. I don’t know what to say about any of this, but it makes sense.” So the second young man, sadly did not get healed. He was placed back in the ambulance and it drove away. As the crowd dispersed, Rolling Thunder asked Schwartz to throw the steaks into the fire. Schwartz looked down at the steaks on the ground and noticed that they were now gray in color, and looked spoiled. Schwartz said “That’s where you put the energy that you drew off from the boy?” Rolling Thunder replied “That’s right.” 6
As I listened to Stephan Schwartz tell this compelling story, it brought up just as many questions as answers. I had heard of the Native American tradition of power animals and that they believed that each of us had access to them. But I never before imagined that this relationship between a human and the spirit of an animal or animal species could cooperate in such a mysterious and incredibly valuable way. I wondered about the possible past life karma between the second patient and his mother, that might allow her to have such control over his own healing path? I wondered what became of the two young male patients and the doctors who witnessed this extraordinary event? More than anything, I wondered about the incredible potential of the human being who chooses to acknowledge, respect and welcome these healing forces of nature to work through him or her, as this powerful shaman did.
Later in the interview, Schwartz explained this phenomenon from his perspective. “Rolling Thunder was a man who had developed a protocol. That is what spiritual and religious rituals are; they are a kind of protocol. In ethnohistoric spiritual communities that have long lineages from one generation to the next, they [spiritual rituals] are in effect a kind of spiritual science. The rituals they develop are the protocols – just like a scientist uses protocols. The difference is that they don’t take independent measurements – the outcome is obvious if you get healed – but the techniques that are used are in many ways quite similar to a scientist doing an experiment. That’s the way I’ve come to think of them. These are in essence spiritual sciences that developed through empirical observation over long, long periods of time.”
While discussing his involvement in further parapsychology research, Schwartz mentioned his study concerning the effects of therapeutic intention on the molecular structure of water. He discovered that when individuals sent healing intentions into samples of tap water, there was a change in the oxygen-hydrogen bonding relationship. After this shift in the water was achieved, samples were then compared with water from natural springs that are traditionally associated with healing. Surprisingly, the oxygen-hydrogen bonding relationship of the tap water had shifted to match the molecular structure of the healing spring water. Schwartz reported that there are 130 scientific papers within the oncology literature, showing that when this oxygen-hydrogen bonding relationship changes in the water inside the cells of the body, there is a stimulation of the body’s immune response.7
Schwartz stated that he and researchers in his field are just beginning to understand the issue of focused intention, and the role that this plays in opening to non-local consciousness (the aspect of our consciousness that transcends the boundary of our physical body and ordinary physical senses). “The research is telling us that there are two kinds of phenomenon… There is non-local perception – that’s opening to that aspect of yourself which is outside of time-space, and there is non-local perturbation – that is the ability of an individual, through intention, to have an effect on a physical system or another living organism. It is very wide-spread. Unquestionably some people are better at it than others.”8
In shamanism it is said that the strength of our intentions, personal power or “medicine” is equal to how deep our relationship is with the Creator of the universe, and with all the living forces of nature. Each of us can explore these relationships by going within through meditation where we reconnect with our source. Here we capture a glimpse of the memory of our true nature and potential – the memory that we are eternal and that all is well in the universe, that all experiences are one when we return to source; that we enter this physical world to explore, to develop, to create, to love and to be helpful to each other. While in deep meditation, we slow down our brainwave frequencies and become more sensitive to the subtle energies of nature and of the spirit world. We can strengthen our relationship with our own physical body, our spirit guides and all of nature, the earth, sun, moon and stars…the elements, animals, plants and stones, understanding that they are all conscious and aware and respond to the energies of our emotions and our thoughts. We can experiment with tuning in to these forces and noticing how they affect us – sensing differences in the momentum or spin of the earth energy compared with a specific star, or the energy of a tree compared with an animal, or the varying forces that are felt while meditating in the desert, near the ocean or on a volcanic landscape.
Throughout all cultures and their related spiritual belief systems, evidence can be found that our true human potential expands far beyond the world’s general understanding. When we reach very deep levels of meditation, we can awaken a primordial cosmic power within us that revives our original desire to align our intentions with the will of the Creator. This enhances our ability to communicate with and cooperate with the living universe. We can talk with our physical body, the earth, the stars and all of nature, with the awareness that every thing and every being is alive, channels the creative force of the universe, and responds synergistically to recognition, respect and gratitude. We can ask these forces to come together to guide us, and to increase the power and focus of our intentions. We can welcome these forces to assist us in fulfilling our higher potential as we express our wisdom, love, creativity and healing abilities in this world.