Spiritual Awakenings

photo by leslie sheraden

“Spiritual Awakening is a shift in consciousness – an initiation into an expanded sense of awareness.” ~ Melanie Beckler

Preface

A spiritual teacher is the one that told me I had a lot to say about my experiences. At that time, I had experienced much: my feelings of spirituality versus religion, dreams, channeling, paranormal, teachers entering and exiting my life, past life regressions, intuitives and divination and last but certainly not least visitations. I was growing spiritually. But there was much more that I needed to learn and the universe was guiding me to new teachers and mentors because when the student is ready, the teacher appears. 

I have been blessed with many more spiritual experiences since that time about ten years ago. That teacher suggested that I write a book. I was skeptical but kept an open mind. The only problem was I did not write. That is, I did not like writing. I did not like writing in my academic life or my career. A middle school English teacher assigned a creative writing project. I think I wrote a paragraph where in it I wrote something like, “…the tops of my boots wilted over like rose petals.” She loved it and told me to keep going. My creativity wilted just like those boots. I’m not sure why I did not like writing. But as I grew older my dislike for writing did not change. In a committee I was involved with where I worked at the time, I was tasked with coming up with a mission statement. Just a short paragraph that tells everyone who we are, what we are and how we might attain our mission. Naturally, I froze. And then I asked someone else for help in writing it. 

Several years later during a career change due to the economic turn down in 2008, I took several classes at a community college to sharpen the saw or change direction altogether. And that’s almost what happened. On a club board in the student lounge there were several options for participation. One that really popped out was the school newspaper. The suggestion to write came to mind as soon as I saw it. I amused the universe and attended the first club meeting. I read a lot and listened to the news that was delivered on news broadcasts, so I thought I knew how  to structure a story. At the journalism club I learned to write, investigate and report and discovered that I liked writing. The words just flowed. How the words flowed or where the inspiration and motivation comes from is a mystery to me. They flowed into a blog and (so far) two books. At each step on my  journey the universe has opened up for me at the right time, like each petal of a lotus that is blossoming. 

Knowing, Hearing, Seeing, Feeling: The Clairs

Shyla shared with me that she was afraid to see a ghost, that is, an earthbound, while she was investigating a haunted house with a paranormal group. She told me she had been lying on a bed in a bedroom of this haunted house when, with her eyes closed, a female presence got on the bed with her and was talking to her. Shyla said she was afraid to open her eyes to see this ghost; she didn’t want to see her. My reaction to this was a mix of surprise and interest.

Shyla was a spiritual teacher and an intuitive medium. She had the gift of knowing, feeling, hearing and seeing, what I call the four clairs: Claircognizance, clairsentience, clairaudience and clairvoyance.

I have heard that anyone can be one or all of the clairs. I am mostly all four by admission. I have seen energy mostly in the shape of orbs and flashes. It frightens me now just as much as it has my whole life to see them. I don’t want to see a ghost or spirit or apparition. I’m not sure where this fear comes from, perhaps I learned to fear them at some point in my early childhood.

My other senses became stronger, particularly clairsentience. My inner and outer energy radar can feel energy from those living on earth as well as earthbounds. At first feeling earthbounds was frightening and I would run from the room. I still do. I learned to tell them to go away because they don’t belong here on earth and they don’t. They need to cross over first and then they can visit earth another time. Problem is, they don’t know they’re ghosts; they think they’re still flesh and blood.

Conversely, feeling a crossed over loved one is different to me. I feel love and an awareness of who it is. I feel Shyla when she’s around – she’s still teaching and inspiring me.

**All photos by Leslie Sheraden

Crossed Over Loved Ones

I believe that when our souls leave our human bodies they go to the Other Side of the veil. They go home. When I recalled  my soul leaving its body in a past life during past life regression therapy, it did not hurt. While the action of my death in that life may have been painful, I did not experience that during the past life recall.  I did not feel panic or that I wanted to leave. In fact, it felt quite natural. As I went through the blue tunnel, where departed souls travel to the  other side, I felt pure love, lightness and peace. It was not at all scary as I once believed death to be.

When Spacey passed away, the pain that I felt in my body, head and heart was impenetrable. No amount of hugs and hand holding would have lessened the pain. No one talked with me about death, except for expressing sympathy. I only knew from church sermons when I was young that when we die we go either to Heaven or Hell. I hoped she would go to Heaven.  I only knew that she was gone and I would never talk with her again. Eleven years later when Grandma Shirley passed on, I understood more about the soul; where it is after the body is no longer needed for its journey here. It did not mean that I missed her any less or that I did not mourn her.  I recalled our talks  a year or so before she left this world about reincarnation and that death was a part of the life cycle. 

As more loved ones passed, understanding grew and pain lessened. I knew that they passed from the physical world to the spirit world. They are still with us in spirit. When I was first aware that I was experiencing visitations I knew that it was communication from crossed over loved ones.

Linda was a co-worker at a media company we worked for in  New York. We both worked in accounting: she was the  accounts payable and accounts receivable bookkeeper,  I was an office clerk. I was younger than her by about twelve years; she was married with older children. I was recently married and was starting my family. She was supportive of me and I looked up to her. One morning on the radio a news report said a young man had been killed in a motorcycle accident. He was Linda’s youngest son. I was heartbroken for her.

A few years later I had a dream.  Linda and I were sitting at her desk. She was cross training me on an aspect of her job. She was sitting in front of her computer and I was sitting to her left. On my left were three beige 4 drawer lateral filing cabinets. While Linda was showing me something, I suddenly looked up at the end of the cabinets. I knew someone was there. A young man I did not know was wearing khaki pants and a waist length brown jacket, unzippered. He casually walked from behind the cabinets, looked right at me and said, “Please tell my mom I’m okay.” And kept walking. I had never met her son but I knew this was him in  my dream. Later, when Linda was training me on something I would be doing for her, we were sitting just as we were in my dream. I related this message dream to her. At first Linda did not believe that souls could connect with us in our dreams or connect with us at all. But she thanked me for telling her.

My visitations with Peggy during automatic writing, Spacey getting my attention while I followed a service truck that bore her nickname, and Grandma Shirley sitting next to me in bed talking to me and others that I knew that have visited me in different ways, have shown me that we all transform from the physical world to the spirit world. Physical death is not the end. My crossed over loved ones wanted me to know this and that they are just visiting.

*all photos by Leslie Sheraden

First Inklings

In the Beginning

As an adolescent, whenever something was bothering me or causing me anxiety, and as a teenager what didn’t, I would turn on the radio and keep it on all night, falling asleep to the music that the late night and overnight dee-jays played. It’s a coping mechanism I use to this day, although now I have a playlist on my iPhone. One particular late night or rather early morning I had suddenly woken up, restless. I did not know the source of my restlessness that spring night. Maybe it was school.  As I laid in my bed, tilting my head a little toward the window, looking up at the starry sky, a frightening thought cracked open the  darkness and illuminated the reason for my restlessness. I wondered: what happens to us when we die?

I tossed and turned all night, grateful for the radio as company. WNEW-FM in New York City was then a progressive rock radio station, adopting that format in the late 1960’s (The format changed again in the late 1990’s.) They were playing album sides of their featured record of the week, Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell, which was destined to become a classic; it was an album that had spawned a few great songs already in regular rotation on the iconic radio station. I had come to love radio because of my dad. He almost always had the radio tuned to the New York City  radio station.  I loved rock and roll music and listening to the deejays. They were intelligent, articulate and knew so much about the music they played. Listening to the radio became the inspiration for me to  want to pursue a broadcasting career and a lifelong interest in rock and roll history. But I digress…

I kept looking out of the window from my bed into darkness that seemed to go on forever.  Night time does that when I cannot get back to sleep. The night becomes elongated adding to the worrisome thoughts moving around in my head.  The reassuring voice of the overnight deejay and the music playing on the radio  redirected my thoughts on death and dying which should have been the least of my worries at such a young age. What is curious is that it should wake me up from a brief slumber and haunt me for much of that night.  How did that happen? 

What if the soul of every human being  was crammed up into the atmosphere. Where else would they go? The bodies went to heaven or hell depending on if they were good Christian people or not. Or so  my grandmother Evangeline said. My sister Angela and I learned from a very young age that if we didn’t accept Jesus  we would go to hell, although we did not understand what hell was. All of that was too abstract for small children, not to mention frightening. We both now  believe that this is not what happens. It would never have occurred to me to ask anyone else  what happens when someone dies. I didn’t think my mom and dad would have had better answers to my questions about death. But I never asked them.  

My teenage logic told me that souls somehow left the body and went up into the sky. So there must be infinite sky to accommodate the same number of souls. All the humans who have ever lived – for thousands or hundreds of thousands of years – would have a soul up in the  sky or heaven beyond the sky: cave people, Druids, Egyptians and people throughout the centuries to that night in the late 1970’s.

With the music still playing on the radio, I thought more about deep space. This first inkling about the universe generated so many questions. What else is out there besides souls floating around in the congested sky? How far up is heaven and can it be seen with the naked eye? Why do we die and not live forever? It would be about a decade before I would learn that each soul lives on after its incarnation on earth and can have more than one life here.  Other life experiences as a teenager and as a  young adult would take place before I would come to believe that. Eventually, my restlessness and endless thoughts surrendered to relaxation and I fell asleep, the stars lighting up the still night sky.  

And so began my spiritual awakening.

“When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Will Appear”

I have been writing about my experiences of my spiritual journey for a few years here and on social media. I’ve also written two books: one was a short story based on my spiritual journey and another about dreams and dream recall. Writing about my experiences has not always been easy for me (I’ll share that in a future blog) but whether I want to or not, spirit sends messages and guidance to encourage me to share my story. And so, I have been inspired to tell you about one of my first and more influential spiritual teachers.

It began in 1990, the searching for…something…something else or something more. Not knowing what that something was or where to find it I looked on the self-help shelves of a local bookstore. From past experience I knew that religion wasn’t the answer. Neither was drinking alcohol with the wrong people. I recall looking at the bookshelves hoping something would pop out or fall off one of the shelves and into my hands. Since I didn’t know specifically what it was I needed to fill the void within me I was hoping one of the books there in the bookstore would. One book did look familiar to me from recent television commercials: Dianetics . After some contemplation I decided to give it a try. I tried it for about two chapters and decided that it didn’t resonate with me. Trusting my gut was crucial. This wasn’t the book I was looking for.

Very shortly after that, I had the book in hand when I met H.B. someone who was introduced to me by my sister Angela. When he asked about the book I was holding in my hands I explained how I had been looking for something to fill a void or give my life meaning. Honestly, I didn’t really know what to call it or how to articulate what seemed to be missing or what I needed to find to fill that…something. H.B.asked me to follow him and when I did he handed me a book. Apparently, what I needed was in a book. This book was another familiar book. ‘Out On a Limb’ by Shirley Maclaine. My initial reaction was “Oh.”

I was familiar with Shirley Maclaine. Her name was synonymous with UFO’s in the early 1980’s when her book first came out. I recall feeling a little freaked out by her story then. But as I held the book H.B. had given me I didn’t feel freaked out at all. About a month or two later while I was on vacation I started to read it and couldn’t put it down. Believe it or don’t – and I knew people who wouldn’t believe it – this book resonated with me. I didn’t really get everything she spoke about but I was intrigued by the references to the Bible’s alterations and the channel, whose name was Kevin, if I recall (In the movie version of this book, the actual channel is in the movie).

The next book H.B. gave me was Edgar Cayce’s “There is a River”, the life story of the sleeping prophet. His book “Reincarnation” absolutely fascinated me and set me off on a life long passion of past lives. Apart from books, we attended seminars together and visited two psychics and talked a lot about spirituality.

If I had not selected the book that didn’t resonate with me, I would never have met H.B. and started off on the next leg of my spiritual journey and eventually find another spiritual teacher. And then another and another. Whenever I am ready to grow spiritually another teacher always appears.

SHYLA

From my journal entry on November 8, 2017:

‘For no apparent reason last night (11/7/17) I thought of Shyla and prayed for her.

I found a post on FB from yesterday (also 11/7/17) that she passed away. I’m so sad, but so happy that I knew her.’

Shyla was a very important spiritual teacher and mentor for me. She was an intuitive and medium and had those abilities since she was a child. She had been giving readings and teaching other spiritual practices for many years. She practiced Wiccan and was a Reiki Master. And Shyla was always generous with her time and her gifts.

 I had seen her about six months before her passing for my last reading with her. She was showing me how to interpret a tarot card. I had worked with my own tarot cards, looked at the pictures and read the interpretation in the accompanying booklet. She taught me to look at everything on the card, that there were objects and scenery – symbols – that were specific to the message. The card that she was explaining that day featured a man (King?) on a throne with Ram symbols all over the card indicating that a love interest would be an Aries – also based on the placement of the other tarot cards in the reading. There was an Aries man that I was interested in at the time too.

Over the twenty five years that I knew Shyla, I learned something new every time I saw her about tarot, psychic development, the spirit world, different realms, Reiki (I learned Reiki because of her. I am Reiki 2nd Degree), and extra terrestrials. I had called her one evening a few years ago before my son was to come back from a Boy Scout camping and hiking trip in New Mexico. I explained to Shyla about my sons ‘dreams’ about extra terrestrials. He had a couple of them where he would wake up terrified. He had had an ET ‘dream’ four days before he was scheduled to fly out with the boy scouts for this once in a lifetime trip. ET’s and New Mexico: if the trip was not already paid for I may have tried to cancel it. I was on the phone with Shyla for an hour talking about what this meant and more information than I wanted to know about extra terrestrials. I knew they were not dreams, per se.

I had met Shyla in the early 1990’s when nearly everyone in my office went to see different psychics, first Judy and then Shyla. I would continue to see Shyla once a year or twice since then, wherever she was. She moved a lot trying to find the space she was meant to be in. As a Medium, Shyla told me that although she did see and hear spirits, there was one time in a haunted house with a paranormal group where she did not want to open her eyes to see the spirit of a woman who was in a bedroom. That surprised me about her.

So today when I did automatic writing, asking for guidance from the angels, I also called in my Grandma Shirley for help, Shyla made herself known. I was not thinking of her however she offered some advice and had a message for me. When I was done I looked at my notes and thought it was odd that Shyla came to me without me asking her for help. Perhaps I needed a teacher. This time of the year is also when the veil is thinnest and our loved ones can come to us and we can hear or see them better.

Getting Back in the Game

It’s all about being ready and being prepared for the situations that are thrown at you.”  – Eli Manning

It’s been a little more than a year since my last post.

It wasn’t writers block.

The last year has been preparation for the changes that followed. I knew the changes were coming but I did not feel they would affect me as they did. I was preparing for the events and knew what was coming. I underestimated myself. Sometimes that happens. And sometimes, well,  more than sometimes, I let events take control of me.

In  2018, I became an empty nester; sold a house in a neighborhood where I lived for over 20 years; ended a long term relationship. These life changes, though I knew they were going to happen, hit me harder than I ever thought they would. I was preparing for them. I was ready for these changes. I was surprised by how hard they hit me. They all happened  within a span of three months.

I was unprepared for the grief that followed. And re-build a new life for myself.

I’m spiritual not religious. I used my spiritual tool box but despite setting intentions, meditating, taking walks in nature and trying to be gentle with myself, depression is something that just needs time before action. Processing those feelings of living alone for the first time and moving somewhere new. Learning to let go because I must, I have to. The changes were necessary to allow new opportunities to present themselves. When one door closes another one opens.

It’s been three months since then. I’m working on a new career path.  I’ve resumed dream interpretations and writing: I plan on publishing not one, but two books this year. I have been setting intentions, meditating and watching for signs. Guidance from the Universe. Am I on the path I’m supposed to be on?

I am ready to receive good fortune and abundance.

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Taking Back My Power

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The following is one of my past life recalls; names purposely omitted.

 I see a man and a woman in a wooden alcove – is it passion or violence?  Violence. The person I see is a man in that life – who is a woman in my current life. The man is above me. We’re almost hidden but no one thinks anything of it. ‘She’ is speaking low telling me how to behave – to not scream. I’m fearful but listening. This person has power over me. It’s something I have to give in to. He does it to every woman.

I try to find out what country and era I’m in. The Mediterranean area comes to me, possibly during the Renaissance era. He resembles a monk with a brown robe that falls down to his mid-calf, I can see his trousers – or whatever they’re called in that time. He has a bald spot on his head and carries a stick.  I think he’s a shepherd, although, I see him using the stick to push through the water as he walks away.

I ask my spirit guide who is with me why this is happening.  I get “He has no power and he wants it.” Women are powerless in this time and it’s easy for him to take advantage of them. He has hiding spots and a lot of time.

For nearly five years a woman that I had worked with, who abused her power over and over, was abusive to me, as well as to many other women that I worked with.  I would wake up in the morning and my first thought was of her and how I dreaded seeing her. It was toxic. I have felt fear and anger, even when I was no longer working with her, that I couldn’t place and could not let go of. I knew there was something that I had to overcome. I had thought it was realizing that I was not a victim and on a full moon I released that I was no longer a victim. It helped for a time. But the fear and anger persisted.  I knew that I needed to forgive and forget. So I did that. Eventually, the fear dissipated, but the anger was still ever present. I thought about professional therapy; therapy, I thought, would take too long to rid the anger that was swirling inside of me. I wanted to release it with a magic wand.  Instead, I prayed for a solution.

That solution came during this past life recall at a group meditation. That night I thoughtfully chose a question, an intention to understand my situation. I wrote it down and slipped into meditation. As I have shared in previous essays, our souls choose all of our relationships, lessons, and experiences before we reincarnate into another life here on earth. We choose who we want to learn our lessons with; we choose our family and other life lessons that we want to work on in this human journey. We also can choose to work out a karmic contract which is what I had with this woman.

That night in meditation I healed myself. There were no tears, only joy, as my metal shackles unlocked, freeing me from my contract. Finally, the karma was balanced.

No one has power over us. We only think they do. It is an illusion if we could only see it that way. But fear, which is also an illusion, is something that we’ve all learned to allow to control us, to have power over us, life after life after life. Until we learn to break that cycle. And we all have the power to do that.

A Billboard Sign

 

It’s time to take the next step.

These words were part of a billboard advertisement on a train platform that I saw while on my way to Manhattan. When I read the words I knew in an instant that I was meant to see them and they were meant for me. Not that every sign or billboard has to mean something to everyone, but when the universe has a message for us, one that has been given to us more than once — then sometimes a billboard is needed.

 

 

The words were a stark reminder of an experience that I had a year ago; climbing a fire tower in a forest preserve in upstate New York.  I recall how I had been looking forward to climbing the tower to get birds-eye photographs from the top of the tower on that early spring day. And, I recall how I couldn’t make it past the first set of steps. Everyone around me kept saying to just look straight up.  After many tearful pleas of “I can’t”, I eventually made it up another set of steps and then another – just to the height where I needed to be to get the pictures I wanted. They weren’t the shots I’d hoped for, but they would do.

Shortly after that day there was a moment in a shopping mall when I had that same fear of taking the next step, but this was going down an escalator. I felt sheer panic, as if I would fall rather than allow the escalator to gently deliver me to the first floor. Perhaps I didn’t trust the process? I did eventually get down after about half an hour. It took a while for me to go down other escalators after that day, as well. Eventually, the fear wore off when I acknowledged the message. The message was about taking more control of my life; being unafraid to take the next step.

So, on that early spring day that I saw the billboard on the train platform, I thought that I’d come a long way in the last year – on different levels. I felt like I had conquered a giant. I am a warrior goddess slaying her fear.  Or did I speak too soon.

Later that day, as I was shopping in a store in Times Square, it happened again.  I got to the top of the down escalator; fear of taking that next step. I was confused because I thought I’d gotten past that.  Maybe there was one more step to conquer. This time I knew it wasn’t fear that I felt, but uncertainty. How do I make that next step? Is it the right time? I needed clarity.

The universe – God, my guardian angels or deities – was pushing me to my next level or goal. The billboard was a sign: it is time. The spiritual challenges that we face and the signs that we get are different for everyone. For me it’s taking the next step and knowing when to take it.

 

*all photographs taken by Leslie Sheridan