The Sedona connection – red rocks and spiritual power

A great big chunk of my story takes place in Sedona. The place has changed a lot in recent years; when we first visited, it was sort of a nondescript little town surrounded by staggering scenery. Now it’s much more developed and resort-y, but still surrounded, thankfully, by that same jaw-dropping beauty.

I’m deeply connected to the rusty rock energy of that place. Of all the spots in the world, that’s where I find it easiest to absorb messages from Spirit.

It’s ironic, this deep connection. Before all this happened, I was never what you’d call ‘into nature’, being more the slick fashion and trendy restaurants type. If anybody had told me I’d one day be developing a great fondness for hiking boots, or venturing hundreds of miles into remote wilderness on purpose…well I don’t know what I would’ve thought.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, this newfound outdoorsy-ness is probably the least unusual development of the past few years. But it was astonishing news to me that nature could facilitate profound spiritual experience.

Oh, sure – stillness, beauty, all that John Muir stuff. I got it, intellectually. God’s glorious handiwork in the American West, and all that. I just never managed to feel any real connection between spirituality and nature.

It took that crazy-powerful Sedona vortex energy to shock me out of my city girl complacency. Wide open conduits just waiting for a hookup. Who wouldn’t want to get right up in there and explore?

It’s kind of funny, because these days I practice A Course in Miracles. One of its core tenets is that everything is one. Which means, among other things, that all places are one. No individual place is more sacred or spiritual or special than any other. All are exactly the same.

Spirit sends me beautiful, loving messages of oneness all the time, but I continue to experience those messages, visions and deep synchronicities most powerfully in Sedona. So I get messages about the non-special nature of Sedona, while absorbing those lessons most deeply due to the special nature of Sedona!

I used to feel a little bit bad about that. But now I realize that nobody is able to put the Course’s very challenging teaching of ultimate truth into practice right away. Or at least, nobody I know.

And Spirit is endlessly creative at using whatever tools are available at the time. In this illusory 3-D world, I get a huge communication boost from being in Sedona. And Spirit is happy to make good use of that particular illusion, as it has made good use of so many others.

How do I know it’s really you? (How to tell Spirit from ego)

Recently someone on Twitter asked me this: “I sometimes feel that Spirit is speaking to me, but I’m never really sure if it’s Spirit or just my ego mind playing tricks. How can I tell the difference?”

That’s such a good question. Rather than answer it myself, I’ll just quote Spirit, in this passage from the book in which I asked the very same thing:

As wonderful as this new and improved communication channel seemed to be, I wasn’t entirely sure I could trust it.

“These conversations are great,” I said to Spirit, “and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you, but I have to ask: How can I be sure it’s really you talking and not my ego mind? We both know the ego is a master impersonator, and it’s capable of slipping in to hijack any discussion without me realizing it.”

It’s very easy to tell the difference, My dear. Just listen carefully to everything that’s said.

If what you hear is loving, gentle and designed to lead you toward ultimate freedom, you’ll know it’s Me talking.

If you hear the slightest judgment, or a single word that lacks pure unconditional love you’ll know it hasn’t come from Me, for I’m incapable of anything less than total love for you.

Be vigilant in each of our conversations, and soon you’ll be able to trust wholeheartedly in your ability to tell the difference.

Following that advice, I taught myself to pay close attention to the meaning behind every word, and soon found it easy to tell each time a bogus thought or idea was planted within our conversations.

And as I learned to trust in my own ability to recognize the words of Spirit, I also began to relax and trust more deeply in the lessons being offered.

Learning to communicate with Spirit

I’m pretty sure we all have spiritual abilities we’re not tapping into; I’m also pretty sure we can all develop those skills if we work at it. The unused 90% of our brains, and all that.

But then there are those few individuals who are born with those talents, and they seemingly don’t have to work at it at all. Those are the ones we call psychic or clairvoyant or whatever.

I’m not one of those. (Or at least it doesn’t feel like it from the inside. On the other hand, I’ve been described as ‘an open window between worlds,’ so what do I know.)

I guess what I’m saying is, when it came to communication skills, I definitely had to work at it. I’m still working at it.

In 2005 I was studying Barbara Brennan’s book, Hands of Light, and found in it a workbook exercise designed to strengthen communication with one’s Guide:

Ask a question in your mind, write the question down and then be still to meditate. Write down all images, words, feelings, smells, sounds, whatever, as they come to you. Don’t judge any of it, just write it all down.

So I did. I’m a visual person, so at first I got only pictures. Then I started getting pop tunes of the 60’s-90’s to go with the images. (I left that part out of the book – some of those music stories were amazing, but it’s a book, not a 10-part miniseries. Not everything can make the cut.)

The pop tunes were forever sending me to the computer to google the lyrics, because I often only knew the title or chorus. Every time I read the full lyrics in light of my question asked, it was a revelation – who knew Nights in White Satin could be so deep?

Or that Landslide would play a role in causing me to leave behind my 20-year practice of Buddhism forever? (And I never even liked Fleetwood Mac, really.)

The musical interlude was short lived; I think its function was probably just to get me more accustomed to listening. Within a month or two, the music faded and the Voice began to speak more frequently in those meditations.

Up until then, it hadn’t occurred to me that the Voice and the Guide and the pictures and the music could all perhaps be coming from the same place. Or could even be the same thing.

We were still a year or so away from long, free-flowing conversations. Those began in July of 2006, on the same day that the Voice (which by then I called Spirit) delivered this little shocker:

WHEN YOU’RE READY, YOU’LL WRITE BOOKS.

My immediate reaction was more or less unprintable; sort of a peacefully surrendered WTF, if you will. But I was highly motivated to learn how to communicate back, after that. And motivation is really all it takes.

For you, me or anybody.

I’m sorry, and you are…? (Who’s doing the Talking?)

It’s taken me 20-plus years to figure out what that Voice really is.

The first time I heard the Voice was when my friend Johnny showed me his Buddhist Gohonzon. Naturally, I assumed it was Johnny’s Gohonzon talking.

And then after I became a Buddhist and set up an altar of my own, I assumed it was my Gohonzon talking. (A Gohonzon is a scroll of paper. But really, is it any weirder to hear a piece of paper speak than it would be to hear a statue, or other inanimate object?)

The Voice didn’t say much at first, and it didn’t speak often. Every once in a blue moon, it would deliver a short declarative statement:

HE JUST WANTS TO BE LOVED.

Or, several years later,

THAT’S NOT WHO YOU ARE.

It was such a rare and random occurrence that I never took the time to wonder who (or what) might really be doing the talking.

After what is now known as the Dinnertable Awakening of 2005, I began to study other forms of spirituality for the first time. As I did so, my communication abilities (both hearing and speaking) strengthened bit by bit. As we eased gradually into actual 2-way conversation, I started to think of this Voice as my Guide. But it wasn’t until I took up the study of A Course in Miracles in 2006 that the Voice seemed to reveal its true identity for the first time.

I should probably back up for a moment and say this: It’s not my job to endorse any particular path, or advise anybody about anything. When I agreed to write the book, it was with the understanding that I only have to tell the story of my own journey of faith in my own irreligious words, and to pass along the messages that I get while I’m at it.

Thankfully, it’s none of my business what anybody does with that information. So although I speak about various spiritual disciplines, and particularly A Course in Miracles, I do so only because that’s the practice that resonates most powerfully for me personally. If you’re into any of these disciplines, great. If you’re not, equally great. We’re good, you and me, either way.

Now, back to the true identity of my Voice. I’ll just quote you a passage from my book that says it all. Let me set it up for you:

My husband and I had just spent the morning hiking in the Sequoias, and throughout the hike Spirit had been pushing me persistently (but lovingly) to leave my own interpretation of the world behind and allow the gentle truth of Heaven to fill my awareness instead. That’s not nearly as easy or pleasant a job as it may sound, and by the end of the morning I was a little bit annoyed about the whole thing…

Back at the lodge I made a long-awaited beeline for the ladies room. As I headed into the stall, Spirit spoke once more:

Every moment of every day, the truth awaits your memory. Why not make it today?

“You’re asking me to give up everything I know, but why should I listen to You? You’re just an imaginary Voice in my head.” Kidding. Sort of.

Oh, My love, think again. I’m the only truth you’ve ever known.

“What does that mean? What are you exactly?” It had never before occurred to me to ask.

I Am the memory of God in you.

Coming out of the spiritual closet

I hear a Voice. That’s about it, really.

I didn’t always; the first time I heard that Voice was when my best friend Johnny opened his Buddhist altar to show me what was inside. As those altar doors swung wide, visible waves of sparkly, effervescent joy tumbled out to greet me, followed by a crystal clear Voice that spoke out loud inside my head.

And the Voice said:

LONG TIME NO SEE.

Okaaay. I was a dark and snarky 27 year-old club kid at the time, but that Voice was hard to ignore, so I let it lead me on a breathtaking journey of spiritual discovery that continues to this day.

But unexpected as it was at the time, the arrival of that Voice was not my first brush with Crazy. As a child I was tormented nightly by light-filled ghosts. And I never could predict when time might stutter or stop without warning, or when spatial blips might cause buildings or whole city blocks to appear or disappear at will. I never really doubted my own sanity; the likelier explanation was just that the universe hated me.

Although my brain sometimes seemed to work differently from the brains of others, I just thought it meant I was weird. Or spacey. Or maybe low blood sugar-y.

I never possessed the understanding or the vocabulary until very recently to call these things what they were: Visions. Trances. Out of body experiences. And nobody was more surprised than me to realize, decades after the fact, that those light-filled ghosts weren’t ghosts at all. And they most definitely did not hate me.

I was always deeply ashamed and afraid of my weirdness. My differentness. But now at this advanced stage of life I say: Screw it. This is what I am. This is what I do. I get messages from Spirit, and I pass them on. So this is me, giving notice that I’m officially out of the spiritual closet.

My book (besides being the story of how all this came to be) is filled with messages from Spirit, and you’re welcome to ‘em. And I’ll keep passing those messages along as I receive them, for anyone who’s interested.

To paraphrase Deepak: I’ll just be singing in the shower. Y’all are welcome to listen at the door if you choose.

Just don’t peek in the keyhole. That would be creepy.