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The Art of Breathing, by Danny Penman

The Art of Breathing: How to Become at Peace with Yourself and the World, by Danny Penman
Hampton Roads Publishing, 1642970425, 128 pages, May 2022

Breathing may just seem like the simplest thing in the world – something that doesn’t even cross our minds on a daily basis, it just happens to us. Naturally, The Art of Breathing: How to Become at Peace with Yourself and the World by Danny Penman PhD has much more to say on the subject. If breathing is really an art, it must be an ability which we can develop and deepen to reach a far greater depth than the usual automatic bodily process we’re so familiar with. Penman’s depth of experience and expertise as a meditation teacher and award-winning author certainly delivers on that promise. 

Going hand-in-hand with developing breathwork is the practice of mindfulness, which has become such a prevalent subject in recent times. As these topics have gradually diffused into western culture, and as more and more books, courses, and retreats emerge every year, how does an individual book stand out amid the crowd? Penman’s answer is to match the form to the content, which is certainly the most striking aspect of this little book.

The Art of Breathing doesn’t seek to simply impart information and techniques, like so many other books on these subjects do. Instead, the design of the books is a delightful journey through visual space as well as the realm of ideas. You almost can’t find a page without some sort of illustration, alternative layout, or background image that draws in your senses and evokes the presence of the natural world while you learn how to harness the power of your breath.

Some texts on meditation and mindfulness can be a little dry, like an instruction manual that has great results promised at the end, but Penman’s book takes an entirely different approach. As the title suggests, mindfulness practices are not meant to be solely therapeutic but also aesthetic. The quality of your experience is at least as important as the less-stressed, calm, and present state of mind you wish to gain. The immersion in imagery, which often involves plants, animals, and other scenes from Nature, helps to ground the reader in the world rather than removing awareness to the abstract mental realm.

As many practitioners of mindfulness, meditation, yoga, etc. would tell you, deliberately striving to achieve a specific result is more likely to be a hindrance than a help.

“The aim of mindfulness is not to intentionally clear the mind of thoughts. It is to understand how the mind works. To see how it unwittingly ties itself into knots to create anxiety, stress, unhappiness, and exhaustion.”1

Instead, Penman writes that mindfulness provides you with a place where one’s thoughts and emotions may be observed like the rise and fall of the waves, and in those spaces between lies a realm of expanding insight.

One of the specific features of this book that stands out is the design of the meditations and other exercises presented throughout the chapters. You might be familiar with meditations in other books that are paragraphs of text instructing you what to do. But if you aren’t a long-practicing meditator, those kinds of instructions can be difficult to hold in mind – especially while you’re supposed to be paying less attention to what the mind is saying. Not an ideal method for this sort of practice, unless you happen to have a picture-perfect memory. This is another place where Penman’s dedication to an aesthetic quality of presentation manages to shine forth.

In addition to offering audio versions of the meditation exercises on his website, Penman solves the problem of “too much text” by using flow charts set against the background of a great tree, full of tangled branches. It’s so easy to imagine a nest of birds hiding just out of sight while your eyes move over these pages, reinforcing the strong connection with the natural world that the author is encouraging us to remember. While engaging in these practices, it is a simple matter to glance at the next bubble in the flowchart to see the next step of the exercise. I found this incredibly helpful at keeping my attention focused on the exercise, moving from one step to the next without having to search for the place I’d left off.

The artistic style and layout isn’t the only aesthetic feature of this book either. Mindfulness practices can sometimes get stuck in the meditation-phase, where it seems like the only way that this quality of experience develops is by just focusing on the breath. But there’s so much more than breathing in Penman’s work.

For instance, you’ll find a Fruit Meditation, which takes mindfulness out of the breathwork realm for a moment and into the full range of the senses. Through deliberate exploration of a piece of fruit in all its sensory aspects, the exercise heightens your attention to all the little details packed into the simple activity of eating. Experiencing the manifold presence of a piece of fruit is an awakening to the quality of our sensations that our usual habits and attitudes might be ignoring.

This emphasis helps us move beyond the mindfulness found in meditation exercises and brings it out into the everyday world – a bridge that many books find difficult to cross. Penman is also unafraid to challenge common practices and conceptions about mindfulness and meditation. He argues, for example, that many people – especially beginners – would find cross-legged, lotus position meditation difficult and distracting.

Instead of trying to force yourself to sit in the “proper” position, where the discomfort of the body may hinder your ability to relax into a mindful state, Penman suggests that all you need is a Chair, a Body, some Air, your Mind, and that’s it! Although developing different positions and postures may be great in the long-run, your practice shouldn’t be held back on that account.

Overall, The Art of Breathing receives a big, two-thumbs-up recommendation. Although much of the content about breathwork, mindfulness, and meditation can be obtained from many other sources, Penman’s book stands out in its artistic presentation. This gives the work a sense of wholeness and integrity, which helps immerse the reader more deeply and immediately in the quality of awareness that is the subject of the book. And while it’s a short book – you can easily read the whole thing in an hour – its wisdom and exercises are so easy to return to that you’ll want to find it a prominent space on your shelf.

Earth Energy Meditations, by Susan Shumsky, DD

Earth Energy Meditations: Awaken Your Root Chakra – The Foundation of Well-Being, by Susan Shumsky, DD
Weiser Books, 978 157863 703 4, 224 pages, 2021

In her book Earth Energy Meditations: Awaken Your Root Chakra – The Foundation of Well-Being, Susan Shumsky sets the stage for personal work on a level that is both sustainable and achievable. A highly respected teacher, author, and founder of Divine Revelation, Shumsky’s goal is to educate those who feel called to explore their chakras and learn how to both bring them into and keep them in balance. Beginning with the first chakra, known as the root chakra, Shumsky shows how to reconnect with the earth and humanity through a series of readings and meditations.

Real talk: I have a hard time with meditating, simply because of the guilt that arises each time I try and sit and do ‘nothing’. I think we all have a degree of that sense of ‘I should be doing something productive instead of sitting here breathing’ and for me, I find I spend more time fighting that than actually visualizing the sphere of light or whatever I am supposed to be focused on. I do my best to stick with it as I understand the benefits, but I’ve never been able to do it for any great length of time.

Knowing this, Shumsky chose to take a different approach using the introduction section of the book. She explains that the book contains a series of guided meditations, carefully written out with pauses built in and encourages the reader to record their own voice. Jumping ahead in the book is discouraged, however. Shumsky says, “The book is written in a particular order to help you gain increasing strength and integrity. So it is best to practice these meditations in the order they are written.”1

Despite that, there is a provision for those who wish to explore a specific topic in their meditation, and Shumsky encourages focusing on the related chapter. With chapters on such topics as healing ancestral entities, developing inner wisdom, and living your truth to name a few, it’s easy to see how one might want to dive into a later chapter that could offer more of a robust lesson in meditation.

Personally, I did something I never do: I started at the beginning and worked my way through the book as directed. I recorded my own voice as suggested and did my best to try and relax and breathe through the various stress-filled moments where I felt like I should be doing laundry or cleaning or something more important. I think a big part of meditation is learning how to put yourself first, and that idea of putting myself before other things been something that has not come easily or naturally to me.

One meditation that completely resonated with me to the point of tears is around releasing your false self. Shumsky says:

“Human being generally identify themselves with the false self, a.k.a. the ego – limited and bound by ignorance. When I say “ego”, I am not referring to “egotism” or being “egotistical”. I am referring to how you define yourself, i.e, who or what you imagine yourself to be.”2

After the passage, Shumsky then asks the reader to record the affirmation that follows in a strong voice with conviction and I have to tell you, this specific affirmation worked wonders for me. I am not much for the ‘love and light’ crowd as I feel deeply that things need to be balanced and too often we strive for that balance on the side of lightness. There is something to be said for coming to a deep realization that we are beyond what our conscious mind believes.

Meditating and working with the root chakra unlocks a bunch of hidden stuff that can either be allowed to overtake you or can be used to gently strip away that which is no longer needed. Personally, I like shadow work in all forms and I liken this book to that practice completely. Learning how to connect and ground through simple mantras and other techniques is incredibly helpful for times when I need something concrete to hold onto. In the middle of a panic attack, I don’t have to think about too much outside of deep breaths and palms pressed together. That to me is a comfort. As I become more practiced, perhaps other techniques will surface for me to use but for now, this works brilliantly.

Shumsky writes with a practiced ease and answers questions you didn’t know you had until you started reading. Her style is open and gentle and is both accessible and reachable in terms of who can practice. There is no feeling of needing to catch up nor is there any shaming if you aren’t able to perform the simplest of meditations. This is meant for the reader to experience as they will and is not meant as another tool with which to beat yourself up over.

Anyone interested in learning chakras but feeling a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing would do well to read Earth Energy Meditations. I am very much for foundational readings, and, as this book covers the root chakra, this is a great place to start. The writing is approachable and the book itself set up into chapters that clearly identifies what specific area is being explored. I would caution that some of this work gets a bit heavy and if you find yourself sinking too deeply, there is no shame in reaching out for help. Asking for guidance is an act of bravery and does not mean you are unable to look after yourself. We all need help from time to time and the best way you can show yourself how much you love yourself is by getting the help you need.

Inner Practices for Twelve Nights of Yuletide, by Anne Stallkamp and Werner Hartung

Inner Practices for the Twelve Nights of Yuletide, by Anne Stallkamp and Werner Hartung
Earthdancer Books,1644113244, 144 pages, October 2021

I’m sure we’ve all felt that liminal in-between realities that occurs between Yule and the New Year, where we are often left wondering “What day is it?” This year, rather than getting lost in the transition of time, I plan to actively integrate the past and divine the future based on what I’ve read in Inner Practices for the Twelve Nights of Yuletide by Anne Stallkamp and Werner Hartung. Filled with meditations and journal prompts, I am  looking forward to delving into the spiritual energy of this sacred time. Reading this book has made me very excited for the Yuletide season, though I am still not fully on board with all of its information.

Originally published in German, this book has been quite the success. Stallkamp and Hartung are a married couple and both are dedicated to spiritual healing. Stallkamp teaches classes on geomancy and spiritual healing, while also working as an interior designer who clears energy in living spaces and arranges to foster energetic balance. Hartung is a medium who also leads workshops on geomancy and spiritual healing, as well as channeling. Both Stallkamp and Werner are Reiki masters too.

I’ve always felt there was a special energy between Christmas and the epiphany, though I’d never realized that other cultures and traditions honored this time as a sacred pause. Stallkamp and Werner briefly mention this, but choose to not delve further into detail, though I wish they had done so to provide a bit more background information. Rather, the book opens with a channelled message from Minerva, known for being a Roman goddess, who asserts herself as a Elohim, or energetic being, in the transmission. Unfortunately, this seemed like a detour from what I had hoped was going to be a book about the Yuletide season; I suppose I was looking for something more grounded and rooted in tradition.

What follows is Stallkamps and Hartung’s system for the twelve nights of Yuletide. For the most part, the twelve nights correspond with traditional Pagan holidays of the solstices and equinoxes, along with cross-quarter days. However, there are some corresponding dates that are not explained at all, plus there is no information about why these dates were selected. I longed for a deeper explanation of how this system works and where the information came from, rather than just a general overview from a channelled message.

The premise of doing these inner practices during the twelve nights of Yuletide is to both reflect upon the year prior and discover what the year ahead will hold. Since there are twelve nights, each one corresponds to a month of the year, though the days vary and this is not thoroughly explained as I already mentioned. Readers are prompted to use reiki to heal and integrate the past year, while also looking to God, the Creator, and our dreams for guidance about our future during this time.

Meaning, by page 20, we are somehow incorporating channeled messages from a Roman goddess/Elohim for Gaia, while corresponding the nights of Yuletide to Pagan holidays, and now we’re supposed to be doing a Japanese form of energy healing and engage in dream interpretation to determine God’s plan for our lives in the next year. Needless to say I was befuddled about the way the authors have presented this system, as it doesn’t seem to have any coherent spiritual basis and is rather a grab-and-go mash up of whatever spiritual path seems suitable for their purpose.

Not to say things can’t all be integrated, but I think it’s too much to piece together in just the opening pages. The remainder of the book is mostly Christianity-centered, even quoting the Old Testament at times, though it does include prayers to Mother Earth. So, if you’re looking to approach Yule from a Pagan perspective, this probably isn’t the best choice.

Now that I’ve vented my frustrations with the book, I will highlight what I like about it. The actual practice of connecting with the past and present during the sacred pause of Yuletide seems like a meaningful spiritual practice. The authors do provide great questions for reflection, meditations, and energy exercises to integrate the past and prepare for the future. I think I will refer to the book during this time and practice some of their suggestions. Though, I will be doing this based on the tenets of my own spiritual practice, rather than the mix-and-match method suggested by the author.

At the very least, this book heightened my interest in the twelve nights of Yuletide and prompts me to be more intentional this season. I will be looking for signs as to what the year might hold for me during this week, as well as consciously tying up loose ends of the past.

Unfortunately, Inner Practices for the Twelve Nights of Yuletide is not a book I will be recommending this holiday season. However, if a reader is willing to look past the spiritual inconsistency and open to the idea that this is a sacred time of transition, they may benefit from engaging in the practices suggested by the authors. I sincerely hope another book is published on this topic, as I feel there is great value from honoring the traditions of this time during the transition from one year to the next.

Cell Level Meditation, by Barry Grundland and Patricia Kay

Cell Level Meditation: The Healing Power in the Smallest Unit of Life, by Barry Grundland, MD and Patricia Kay, MA
Findhorn Press, 9781644112243, 176 pages, March 2021

… Dr. Barry Grundland was a psychiatrist whose specialty area might have been called psychoneuroimmunology. This is a big word that basically means min-body healing.  The mind, including our thoughts, emotions and attitudes affects the body, and in turn the body affects our minds, thoughts, emotions and attitudes. For over 50 years, Barry worked with people as a true healer –one who helps others come to Wholeness, or a sense of being who they really are…1

Cell Level Meditation: The Healing Power in the Smallest Unit of Life by Barry Grundland, MD and Patricia Kay, MA provides the reader with a broad perspective of the wonders and amazing capabilities of the wisdom of our bodies to heal. The quote above may not be innovative in our current society that is flooded with self-help tools, self-awareness training and contemplative practices of all manner, but the quintessential intention held in this statement about the co-author Dr. Grundland speaks to the simplicity of the book itself and acknowledgment of our capacity to thrive, heal and remain in a state of well-being simply by engaging the healing nature of our bodies in the process. 

“Cell Level Meditation” is a term crafted by Dr. Grundland to describe the power-and simplicity of establishing dialogue with the body at the cellular level and programming those related cells to function in a specific way. Co-author Patricia Kay speaks to the inherent directive and energy of the cell….

… The Cell is a real thing in the material world., and it is a metaphor as well, since it carries a basic “pattern” of organization you can find in every level of Life. The cell has a nuclei for example, which is a central area where you can find very basic information, that is very precise instructions for how things work; this information is inscribed on strands of tightly coiled threads called DNA…2

Kay further sets the tone for what follows and how the reader will be using the cell as a tool for healing:

… For our purposes, at the “level of the cell” we engage the workings going on there at different levels and states of awareness, which we can find with concentration, focus and participation through breath…3

Cell Level Meditation is separated into twenty chapters and makes use of poetry and quotations throughout the book. In general, there is a very poetic tone running through the information provided, which serves to engage the reader at all levels of being and all levels of understanding of neurobiological studies. 

The Introduction lays the groundwork for what follows in the subsequent chapters:

Cell Level Meditation is a vehicle for finding our way “home”.  We take the breath to our cells, offering them our deepest desire to be happy and healthy and strong.  In some way, they hear us and respond…This meditative form is a gift that helps the mind and the body come into healing, which in turn, helps us be ourselves in fullness…4

One of the things I appreciated about Cell Level Meditation is the way in which the reader is enveloped in the intention, whether overtly or subtly in the writings, with a gift of opening to the experience of meditation as a healing soured, as well as greater knowledge of the physical aspects of our being that are co-creators in that healing. 

Chapters one to five act as a primer for the reader and offer tools, exercises and insight into the art of Meditation and its use at a cellular level (chapter one and two), mind (chapter three), body (chapter four) and breath (chapter six). This information in and of its self is valuable in delving deeper into the “whys” of the contemplative arts, whether directed towards cell level use or general mindfulness

There is a specific and supportive rhythm that flows through the teachings of Cell Level Meditation. Each of the remaining chapters expands on these basics and moves through the process of this meditation in a style that is user friendly and allows for time to process and digest what has come previously. Moving through the book, the information has a wonderful way of capturing the mystical in the scientific and the scientific in the mystical. 

Chapter 19, “Conditioned Habits”, is one that calls the reader to awareness of their body’s (cells) wisdom and inherent dialogue (if we train ourselves to listen); and, the acknowledgement that we are all “programmed” (conditioned) towards certain habitual behaviors.  The previous chapters have established the importance of breath as a vehicle of movement and enlivenment, and the practice of breath focused meditation to further awaken the cells and enable these changes and shifts towards a more balanced state. The reader is reminded that this desire and action towards change often brings about chaos, a term used widely in the scientific community denoting the precipice of change or shift from one state of being to another, a naturally occurring evolutionary process found throughout nature….

… Rather than being too worried about being at the edge of chaos”, you are now empowered to stay present with your experience… Even in chaos, you have the breath. You are going into Unknown Territory, but with your intention and hope and the breath. The rest … comes from a higher place. … By working with the edges of our conditioned habits with awareness, willingness to stay present for what is actually going on as sensations in the body, even stuck patterns are called to a higher level when there is a ripe moment…5

These are merely highlights of this book. It is difficult to capture an “experience” in the writing of a review. I believe, however, that the authors have done just that, and more. Additionally, the publisher Findhorn Press was aptly suited for this title. Having reviewed several of their titles now, there is most definitely a theme and level of quality in the work of their authors that provides representation from the scientific/academic community as well as the more esoterically inclined. The overall themes are those of wholeness and collaboration at the levels of the environment, the planet and most importantly those beings who remain as stewards of themselves and their surroundings.

Cell Level Meditation takes the reader into a journey of the microcosmic nature of our self and the profound power of healing and wholeness contained in the singular component of our physical make-up – the cell. And, from that place of the cell the potential for what can be brought back into the macrocosm is limitless. 

Meditations for the Soul, by Neale Lundgren

Meditations for the Soul: Pathways and Practices to Strengthen Your Soul for the Journey Ahead, by Neale Lundgren, PhD
Llewellyn Publications, 90738764306, 236 pages, December 2020

Meditations for the Soul: Pathways and Practices to Strengthen Your Soul for the Journey Ahead by Neale Lundgren, PhD is a beautiful little book that fits comfortably in your hands. The cover artwork is inviting and a soothing image of water colored birds on tree branches. Before you open the book, the heart, mind, and soul are engaged in its simplicity and inviting visual presentation. 

Everyone is a seeker. Everyone longs for a soulful purpose that sets the heart ablaze… We are seeking to make sense of life. But, we will find it difficult to make sense of life until we have made sense of the soul…1

These words are shared on the first page of the introduction and set a very clear path that Meditations for the Soul will offer more than your standard collection of thoughts and affirmations that make the reader “feel good” without addressing the beauty of cultivating a practice of deepening the connection to the gifts of the soul. The reader is guided towards a space of being both a student and a teacher of the soul’s lessons as a (or many) lifetime’s pursuit. The inclusion of a robust Recommended Reading list and a Glossary at the end of the book also support a tone of learning, exploring, and engaging in an active way. 

Meditations for the Soul is separated into thirty chapters that are further organized into three parts. Each chapter provides a bite-sized offering that includes an introduction to the purpose of its work and concludes with a “Soul Journey.” This begins as a brief guided meditation and flows into an “Awakening Exercise.” 

The content, although brief in words, speaks directly to the soul of the “seeker” as a tome of great wisdom. I appreciate the designation of “seeker” Lundgren uses throughout. It engages the reader in a deeper way and implies that awakening to our purpose at the level of the soul requires a commitment that extends well beyond doing a specific set of exercises or contemplative work. To be a “seeker” is to always be actively inquiring and doing in a way that is infinite in its possibilities.  

It is evident in the offerings throughout Meditations for the Soul that Lundgren brings a perspective of both analytical academia and practical experience. This is supported in his sharing of his personal journey to the soul from successful musician to time spent at a monastery as the result of a back packing trip through Europe and the eventual attainment of a degree as a psychotherapist. Lundgren addresses the needs of the soul for reflective and inward journey as well as the practical outward actions and exercises required to bridge the spiritual and the material expressions of the soul’s work. 

The purpose of this book is threefold; to provide you with ways to connect your body and mind to the senses of your soul; to give you strengthening practices and pathways for your soul’s journey through the material world; and to impart to you teachings based on ancient wisdom that will help you bring more soulfulness to your relationships with others…2

Each of the three parts of the book carefully aligns with one of the principles of Lundgren’s threefold purpose and builds one upon the other. “Part One: Awakening to Soul in the Material World” provides the reader with an introduction to the work of revealing and collaborating in awareness with the soul and its purpose in the realm of material and physical existence.  “Chapter 2: The Seeker Awakens” will definitely appeal to those drawn to the psychoanalytical process. 

The seeker’s journey proceeds in gradual awakenings, along with many stages and trials. These are questions you can ask yourself to help you figure out where you might be… Let these serve as useful indicators of the adventure of soul that lies ahead…3

The questionnaire that followed served both as an eye-opener and a space of claiming the journey as your own unique experience. Anything that allows you to know more about yourself will be an opportunity of growth wherever it is applied. I found this to be an insightful tool of first steps.

“Part Two: Strengthening Soul in the Material World” takes the reader through an exploration of the yogas Lundgren has identified as unifiers of soul and matter within the seeker. This “strengthening” is engaged through the overlay of each of the specific energies of a form of yoga. This approach also allows the reader to open to the awareness that what we as Westerners typically refer to as yoga is much more than the physical expression; but rather, a whole and unified way of being. I was particularly drawn to “Chapter 11: At the Threshold of the Paths,” the first chapter of this section.

Throughout the centuries, masters of the inward journey have provided a rich variety of practices called “yogas” for the purpose of strengthening the soul for its journey through the material world… The word itself comes from the Sanskrit juj meaning to “yoke” or to “unify”…4

This unification is expressed as the energies of the yogas of mind, heart, energy, action, integration, and more. I found this to be a powerful way of reinforcing the concept of all aspects of our being and soul are in alignment with one another, informing each in a connected and unified way.

Having built on the practices of personal revelation of and active participation in the soul’s journey, “Part Three: Bringing Soul to the Material World” engages the reader at a soul level as part of a collective of souls, each finding their own way. The encouragement here is one of continued personal work, now with the understanding that we all become the light for one another, an example and an inspiration of life as a fully integrated corporeal being of soul.

Many of the writings in this concluding section of chapters involve the pitfalls and the joys of realizing your soul’s nature. Chapter topics include stress, relationships, companionship, the language of the soul, and more. This section explores the practical nature of soul work reinforces the knowingness that soul and matter are not separate from one another. They are indeed collaborators and reflections of the other.

Meditations for the Soul is user friendly, but is not an easy read if you take the contemplatives and practices to heart and allow yourself to be open to the journey, from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed the first read through, but I will most definitely be starting at the beginning and allowing myself the space and time to fully digest the material and work with the recommendations and wisdom held between its covers. The statement below eloquently summarizes the intention of this book. They are words that should be accessed and contemplated routinely as each new journey unfolds. 

Wander, seek and find new treasures within your soul and within the souls of others. Aspire to expand your heart until it encompasses the universe. Through the refined soul senses of empathy, compassion and forgiveness, impart this healing balm to others in the world, beginning with yourself…5

Interview with Spirit Guide Erin

Oh, the fun ways spirit will work to align people meant to be in our lives! Who would have thought I would synchronistically meet Erin in 2020, despite living on opposite ends of North America. Her journey with spirit, especially her advocacy for awakened children, has been immensely rewarding to see unfold.

I immediately was drawn to Erin’s work because I used to see and talk with spirits when I was a young girl. Through my teenage years and into my 20s, spirits often communed with me. I could always envision the spirits that lived in my friend’s homes, and could very quickly sense the presence of spirit in my daily life. However, I always felt isolated and alone in these experiences, especially as a child.

As a nanny to dozens of families over the course of a decade, I often had children speaking to me about their imaginary friends they saw and had relationships with. The majority of parents shut down their children’s experience, deeming it imagination or simply made-up, but I always knew they were seeing spirit. This is why Erin’s mission means so much to me. Her work with spirit is something I truly believe is going to make a great impact in the world as people begin to acknowledge children’s awareness of the spirit world, which is often a natural part of childhood and deserves to be nurtured.

Erin’s journey is real, authentic, and empowering. I was thrilled she agreed to do an interview for Indie Mystic, as she’s currently busy writing her first book about her experiences. Additionally, she also assists with meditation classes and has her own ghost hunting group! But I won’t give too much away… Let’s dive in!

Can you tell us a bit about your background and what called you to work with spirit?

Of course!  I live in Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada.  My husband John and I are parents to two beautiful little girls.  I was born in Toronto, and my family moved to Brantford when I was 12. I’ve had many experiences with spirit throughout my life, starting at age 3.

In my early 20’s, spiritual activity around myself and my family intensified, leading up to one specific experience that would be my spiritual awakening.  It was when my daughters also started having spiritual encounters that I began searching for answers. I wanted to learn more about the spiritual world in order to help my daughters navigate their own lives with spirit. So, I guess my calling to work with spirit was for my girls.  I wanted to help them and all of the other children and families out there who are in need of compassion and guidance.  

How does spirit usually manifest itself for you?

I have seen spirit take form twice in my life. One was a little girl and the other a woman in her mid 50’s.  These stories are in my book.  Seeing them take form makes me uncomfortable, so I have asked spirit to show themselves to me with flickering of light in the air, or orbs.  Spirit has also given me a physical sign on my body to show me when they are close.  My right hand will go numb and start to tingle which is always my sign spirit is near.

Can you describe your spiritual awakening process, or perhaps events that lead you to developing your connection to spirits?

I’ve had many experiences over the years, but I would say my spiritual awakening happened when I was 8 months pregnant.  We were at my cottage on Lake Simcoe and my uncle, husband, and I decided to take the boat out for a tour around Snake Island.  Lake Simcoe is a huge lake, and it can turn dangerous quickly, which it did on this day. We were caught in a fast moving storm and it was a near death experience. When we were finally able to get back to shore safely, a very powerful spiritual moment occurred: my deceased Papa made himself known to my uncle and I in a very profound manner. It was after that experience that the spiritual world became very prevalent in my life. 

Do you have any on-going relationships with spirits? Why do you think they are drawn to you and your family?

I do.  I am very connected now to my main spirit guide. I see her often in meditation and feel her presence around me. My Papa is one of my guardian angels, and he is with me at all times.  I also see him often in meditation.  When you start practicing a spiritual life, spirit will begin to appear. My husband and I have always encouraged our girls to share their experiences with spirit and have never shut those conversations down.

Being sensitive to spirit runs in my family.  I think when it’s in your lineage, it will eventually manifest itself, which it has for myself and my girls. My mom told me my great grandmother would speak to my great grandfather’s spirit each day in her room after he passed. I never met her, but knowing she was sensitive to spirit, I am not surprised my girls and I are as well.

We have two spirit children who are with us constantly. Their names are Charlie and Lila.  They are my oldest daughter’s spirit guides and they know they are accepted in our household – with boundaries, of course.

What’s one of your favorite stories involving spirit?

My favorite story is about our spirit boy named Charlie.  When my daughter was just over a year old, I opened up a new business.  A client came in who I had heard was a medium in my small town.  I knew by the way she was looking at me that she was going to share something with me. Sure enough, when she was leaving, she began to give me a reading. She knew a lot about my past, which was quite shocking to me at the time. She then began to ask me if I knew a Charlie or if there was a Charlie in our family. I said no, and thought to myself that she was completely off about that piece of information. She then proceeded to tell me that there would be a small boy who would be visiting my daughter and would be with her for some time and his name was Charlie.

I told my husband and my immediate family about my reading and about the little boy named Charlie. Life went on as normal.  When my daughter was a year and a half old, she was at our family cottage with my husband, parents, and sister.  My brother, brother-in-law, and I were unable to attend the cottage that weekend.  When they came home from the cottage my husband said, “I have to tell you something.” He told me our daughter had said her first two words in a row. At first, I was upset, as I had missed that milestone. But when he told me that our daughter had walked around the cottage all weekend long saying “Goodbye Charlie,” it was a powerful moment. From that moment on, our little spirit boy Charlie has never left her side.

How did you feel when your children first started sharing their experiences of spirit?

It was a very confusing and lonely time in my life. There were many emotions. I felt afraid, anxious, and had a lot of questions I needed answers to. We kept it as a secret in our immediate family, and we did not discuss it with anyone else, as we were afraid of the judgement that is sometimes associated with believing in spirit.

When I finally accepted it was real and happening all around myself and my children, I finally felt free. But I also realized I would have to navigate this on my own, as there are no support groups or information for parents who have awakened children.  There aren’t many books written on the subject either. So I basically had to figure it all out on my own, which I have done.  I found out two years ago that the spiritual community is quite large in our small town, Carleton Place.  More and more people are becoming awakened, especially during this pandemic, and it’s becoming more accepted to talk about spirit and share experiences and stories.

What’s the biggest challenge raising awakened children?

I would have to say that our biggest challenge will be making sure they are always protected and allowing them to share their experiences without judgement.  My children’s generation are the most awakened, and it is my generation that holds on to judgement.   If parents shut down those conversations with their children, it closes their children off from the spiritual world. It is so important to listen and learn from our children.  Their generation will do unbelievable things in their lifetime.  

Why do you think many parents shy away from acknowledging their children’s connection to spirit? How do you think the world would be different if instead, this was encouraged?

They are scared.  Many people are terrified of what they cannot see.  I also think it goes back to the feeling judged.   If we could all be a little more open to spirit, great things would happen.  Our loved ones are always with us, guiding us, and showing us the signs.  The spiritual world gives people hope and peace. If we listened to our children and their experiences, many would benefit from what their children could teach them through spirit. 

How was your family impacted by these events? Are you able to openly share your experiences?

My family has been impacted greatly by all the events which has ultimately led me to write my book.   I love talking about spirit.  I would talk about spirit all day long if I could.  I love telling my family’s story and hope that it will help many other families and people around the world who are going through their own spiritual experiences.  I wanted to share our story to provide compassion, hope, and guidance. I have been blessed with a group of people who are all very spiritually connected, and I’m able to talk to them about anything relating to spirit on a daily basis, which has been an amazing outlet for me.  

Have you ever felt the need to protect yourself from “bad” spirits?

I don’t believe in bad spirits.  I believe there are lower energy spirits but I have never referred to them as bad or negative spirits.  I wear a black Tourmaline crystal stone necklace daily to keep any lower energy away from me, and I put a variety of crystals under my girls’ pillows to keep them safe. I sage my house often, saying the same prayer every time, and always follow a strict routine of saging, especially in my girl’s bedrooms. I also pray every night to God, the Universe, Ultimate Divine — whatever you want to call it.   I pray to God and also Archangel Michael to always protect my family, especially during these trying times.  I ask them in prayer to also protect my family through the process of writing my book and sharing our story with the world.

I know you work at the store Amethyst, how has finding your spiritual community enhanced your life?

Oh my! In so many ways.  I work at the store part-time, as I also run the Carleton Place Denture clinic across the street.  The store Amethyst came to be from a spiritual class I took.  One day, I was looking out my front window of the clinic and saw an empty store space across the road, which I told my friend about. She opened the store last February.   The whole story is in my book.  I love my spiritual community and it’s extremely freeing to be around like-minded people.

Amethyst opened only last February and the store’s Facebook page already has over 850 likes, which is close to some of the established businesses in downtown Carleton Place!  That shows you right there how many people are awakening.   Most that enter the store are spiritual, and it’s beautiful to listen to their own stories and experiences with spirit.  The store brings me a lot of peace. I love being there and taking my girls there to pick their special gems.   

What types of activities do you do with your ghost hunting group?

Oh yes, my ghost hunting group! There are eight of us women, who would have thought right?  Friday nights, the eight of us embark on spiritual investigations. We are a group that is made up of very different ages and personalities, but we all have one thing in common: Spirit. Each of us uses our gifts during our investigations to call spirit in. We have explored a few outdoor places, trying to obtain as much detailed footage on camera as we can to show people spirit is real. Due to all the current restrictions with COVID-19, we are not allowed to explore indoor spaces at the moment.  We have many in mind and a few lined up, so we are hopeful we’ll be able to do these investigations again in the spring.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about spirits?

I think the biggest misconception is that spirits are evil and scary.   Ghosts or Spirit are just trying to get our attention.  They try so hard to show us they are there. They want to show their loved ones they are always with them guiding them and providing unconditional love. The spiritual world is beautiful.  There is nothing more empowering than knowing that when we die we are all reunited with our loved ones and that there is this beautiful place waiting for us all to go.

How do you suggest others learn how to connect with spirit in their own life?

Through meditation.  I am asked this question a lot.  Spirit will come through strong during meditation.  The first time I meditated I was shocked at what I saw.  That story is in the book. The first step is believing and letting go of the fear.  We offer meditation/connecting to spirit classes at the store, and they are always full due to more and more awakening people wanting to learn to connect with spirit.  We are all spiritual beings having a human experience, meaning we can all connect to the spiritual world if we learn the tools and practice.

Where can our readers learn more about your work and upcoming book?

I have a blog they can follow along called We Are Spiritual Beings Having a Human Experience. I am on Facebook We Are Spiritual Beings Having A Human Experience. I am also on Instagram and Pinterest @Awakeningbookserin.