A Camino: Firewalk and Life Streaming

When I first heard the diagnosis “breast cancer,” I was lost in shock and fear. How could this happen in my life? To me?! After a few days, I gradually was able to re-center in the peace within me, to remember that everything that happens in my life is part of a soul plan that I was part of designing before my birth. Nothing is a coincidence, and everything is connected to everything else. I am one soul in one lifetime on one planet. Yet I am also part of the entire fabric of being in the universe. Sometimes it takes loss or crisis in our lives to fully realize this. When things fall away or apart, the long view becomes more visible.

Illness or disease can stop you short in your tracks and remind you of your own mortality. Even if you think you are unattached to outcome or completely surrendered to however events unfold. Even if you feel connected to a greater consciousness beyond life and death. There is always more surrender available, deeper all the time. And there is always more letting go of attachment—until there’s nothing left but soul. The physical body holds within it the last attachment. You definitively let go of that attachment at death. But you can also let go of it as part of life. This is what is meant by “dying unto yourself.” You release attachment not only to your identity but to your physical form. You live your life as your soul, immersed in peaceful Presence. The same immersion in Presence that occurs at death. Only you are radiantly alive and aware.

I have experienced times of surrender and Presence on my spiritual journey, but when breast cancer came into my life, I stepped onto an accelerated path: my own Camino.* The more I trusted that I was being divinely guided on this path, the more everything flowed. During and after surgery, I felt surrounded by angelic healers, floating in profound Oneness. My physical form seemed almost nonexistent. I returned home to heal and rest quietly. A week later, the pathology report showed wide clear margins—excellent! Then my surgeon told me that new test results indicated I should probably include chemotherapy in my treatment plan along with radiation. I had already accepted the latter, but the combo frightened me. Attachment to my body as it currently looked and felt was front and center. I was being asked to dive even deeper into acceptance and surrender.

My breast-cancer-survivor friends helped me with this acceptance (as did my very knowledgeable and kind doctors), but then my own inner genie handed me a vision that changed the way I saw everything. During a powerful meditation one morning, I suddenly understood what breast cancer represented in my life. In my mind’s eye, I saw an image of burning coals, like those used in the traditional firewalk, practiced by many cultures for thousands of years as a rite of faith, healing, or initiation. Immediately, I knew that for me radiation and chemo were the “burning coals,” and that I would safely “walk” through them as I surrendered attachment to my body and trusted my soul’s journey. My Camino walk is a fire of initiation, transmutation, and expansion beyond the physical. I envisioned myself afterward as pure soul light. No attachments, just life streaming through eternity in timeless splendor.

This is our collective destiny: to walk through humanity’s fires and emerge as light, each in our own way. Every person’s journey is unique. Each soul path divinely orchestrated. On the other side of our firewalks is a Presence that permeates the universe in life and in death. In truth, they are one: infinite beingness. When we realize that, all fear falls away, and we can live our lives with peaceful, open hearts and souls.
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*The Camino is a well-known path of spiritual pilgrimage across northern Spain.

Guided

Every moment of our lives is guided by an Intelligence that we may only partially recognize while we are in physical form. It has been called variously Infinite Consciousness, Soul Awareness, or more simply, God/Goddess. We are a part of that vast beingness, and before we move from formlessness to form (birth), we choose an overview for our lives that opens us to expansion and evolving. Our physical lives interweave with one another within a vast tapestry of intention and meaning woven by that Intelligence, which we are one with. There is no experience or event, however small or large, that is not connected to that cosmic interweaving.

At this time on Planet Earth, the door to seeing this profound connection, the oneness of the entire universe, is opening wider and wider. More and more people are understanding that their lives are not random and meaningless but indeed part of unlimited micro and macro connections that make up the entire multiverse. “A world in a grain of sand,” as William Blake wrote. “Infinity in the palm of your hand.” This is the miraculous vision that is our human destiny now. To look at the sky and see eternity and gaze at a field of flowers and see heaven. Or to experience each event in your life as rich in both connection and direction.

That is where my breast cancer experience has been taking me. From the moment I had the impulse to check my breasts only two weeks after a normal mammogram, I knew that something greater was at play. I didn’t make a conscious mental decision to do a breast check (before this, I never checked my breasts). Suddenly my hand was checking my right breast and almost immediately located a lump there. It was subsequently found to be cancer, stage 1, and I had surgery to remove it and the area around it. I have been continually moved to share this story and urge others to check their breasts (both women and men can get breast cancer). And to write about allowing not only your hand but your whole being to be guided by a power beyond human knowing, which shows itself in synchronicity, intuition, and inexplicable “coincidences” that move your life in certain directions.*

To trust in your soul’s wisdom and God’s presence can fill your life with inner peace and outer calm. No matter what happens, however painful or beautiful, it is all part of the flow of human evolution into the Light. A light that humanity and our planet is destined to shine in the cosmos. That may sound like wishful thinking or new age speculation, but I assure you that the more you notice the connections between seemingly small events in your life, the more you will see those light-filled connections everywhere. Every person you meet is a fellow traveler. Every experience you have guides you to deeper awareness. Don’t miss it. You will be grateful beyond words to discover that life is not pointless and cruel but always divinely guided in love. I am.
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*As I waited in the hospital for my second breast operation (to achieve wider clear margins), I watched surgery scheduling delays unfold around me. My own operation originally scheduled for 1:40 p.m. ended up taking place at 3 p.m., thus placing it in exact alignment with the powerful balancing energy of the Autumnal Equinox at 3:20 p.m. Perfect synchronicity beyond all human planning.

Living with the Unknown

Nothing is definitively known, ever. That’s why Native Americans, in their timeless wisdom, have called life the “Great Mystery.” No matter what scientists do to try to break the code—send vehicles to Mars, create life in a test tube, photograph black holes in space—the puzzle of human existence and life and death is never really solved. Any “knowledge” we come to as a species is a shifting illusion that changes with the years and with those who are “knowing.” That’s the realm of science and the mind—and belief systems.

Then there’s religion and spirituality. Many traditional religions have explained life’s mysteries with teachings about God, each of them claiming truth and revelation. Yet those too are based in belief. Spirituality extends the parameters a bit to a wide array of perspectives and possibilities about the nature of life and Spirit. If we remain open, we enter the realm of the heart. Therein, it becomes clearer that we can never fully understand life or God; we can only experience them. Which means letting go of interpretations and searches and just living in the mystery as it unfolds.

I’ve found this to be a guiding truth over the past month on my journey with breast cancer. Each day, new information comes up to be processed, or there is a new test result to be waited for. If I try to figure it all out ahead of time or mentally project myself into all the possibilities, I get lost in the “what ifs.” And fear. Instead, I focus on the experience of each moment. That returns me to my heart. My decisions and direction arise organically from there.

My years of meditation practice have prepared me for this time. It becomes an intensive immersion in present-moment awareness. Breath by breath. And I find I don’t have to remind myself to do it. At this point in my life—and perhaps because of the nature of what I am going through—I seem to automatically remain centered in today’s experience. Tomorrow is a question mark, but today the sky is clear, the birds are singing, and I am alive. That’s all I “know.” Perhaps that’s the gift of facing a disease that is full of unknowns and can be so frightening. In order to remain centered in the calm at my center, the peace of my soul, my entire being brings me back to the present moment.

So how do you and I retain this wisdom, this calming approach, in our day-to-day lives, beyond crisis situations? Here, I think it once again becomes a practice of consciously calling yourself back to the present moment, with each breath you take. The more you do it, the more ingrained it becomes in your consciousness. Gradually, you release your hold on the need to know outcomes and relax into living with the unknown, accepting each experience as it arises and letting go into the next one. This is the natural flow of spirit in life. If you allow it, it will carry you effortlessly through the endless vacillations of life. You feel every emotion as it arises but never lose your connection to the inner peace that lives at your core. In this way, the unknown becomes your faithful companion, instead of your adversary, on life’s journey.

Stillness of the Heart and Soul

The nonstop noise of the external world often keeps us from experiencing the quiet at the core of our being. There, a timeless eternal presence without sound or language awaits us, a connection to something greater than our individual, seemingly short lives. Outer distractions, both audio and visual, continuously surround us from our TVs, laptops, and cell phones and prevent a deeper relationship to all of life. Traffic sounds, machinery, and loud voices in nonstop conversation interrupt our peace of mind, even if we don’t consciously recognize the dissonance. Yet, something within each of us does know something is amiss and longs for an absence of sound within which we can feel calmer, more centered. How do we get there?

Many people have turned to meditation and yoga or quiet solitary walks in Nature for just this reason. It connects them to that inner space of quiet within. Once accessed, you may realize it is never absent, even in the noisiest surroundings. At least, that is what I have discovered over the years. There is silence beneath every sound, even the loudest, because sound arises from silence and falls back into it. There is silence between every note of music, every spoken word, and every birdcall. There is silence in my heart. If I pause, that silence rises to the surface, and I become silence itself, just peaceful presence. My soul holds the stillness of the universe and divine connection, and it is always available to me as I awaken more fully and deepen my awareness.

You and I are on this path together, this opening to the eternal stillness of all being. Every human is. It is the collective destiny of humanity, and the individual journey of each soul. The return Home after life on Earth…and a realization that Home is within us now. In silence we find it, and gradually it becomes so compelling that we choose to live the rest of our lives in conscious awareness of that divine stillness within. Sometimes world events, like a global pandemic that shuts everything down, become the catalyst for awakening to this deeper awareness. What appears on the surface to be crisis may open the doors of perception to untold universes within. In the absence of activity and noise, we find peace.

I grew up in the Midwestern countryside, an only child who spent most of my time outdoors. Nature’s quiet is part of me, and I reach out for it in my daily life. Even a small park with trees and flowers in an urban setting is enough to call me back to that inner silence of the heart and soul. I believe we all need this connection, especially now. If you feel distant from stillness in your life, it is not as far away as you may think. Don’t wait until life overwhelms you and crisis stops you to rediscover the essence of your being. Every day, take a few minutes alone to access that place of internal peace and quiet. Pause, close your eyes, breathe deeply—and there you are. As simple as that…

Internal Weather

What if the weather outside your window is actually a reflection of the weather conditions inside you? What if your perceptional framework for viewing life shapes everything, including how you see physical conditions such as rain, snow, clouds, and sunshine that appear to be outside you? What if nothing is quite as it seems to be to the mind? What if the world is as you are?

Ever since I was a small child, I have carried within me an at-times-overwhelming grief about the nature of life, death, and eternity. The “human condition” terrified me; infinity terrified me. Late at night, I described my fear to my mother as “the world goes on forever and ever.” She comforted me and tried to help me learn to distract myself with happier thoughts. But the core unease never really disappeared. In college, I found infinity hiding inside my astronomy and philosophy textbooks. Fear of death and whatever came after was always hovering in the back of my consciousness. In my 30s, I turned to a spiritual quest to try to resolve it. That was the beginning of a shift in my perception.

Over the years, I came to a much broader view of life and of God’s presence in the universe. I have experienced a vast inner peace arising from my soul. At times, when I am completely immersed in it, the peace is as infinite and all-consuming as the fear once was. I “know” with every fiber of my being that infinity is actually divine love, which permeates every aspect of life. There is nothing but infinite consciousness expressing, always, everywhere in the cosmos. It is inside me and outside me, and actually there is no inside and outside. There is a seamless Oneness to all Being. This is what I experience, and within that is peace.

Yet there are still moments, usually late at night, when the fear arises, and a tremendous grief accompanies it. Some people are comforted by the idea of eternity; I am terrified by it. Now, however, I have come to see it as a catalyst for my soul’s evolution in this lifetime. It propels me ever deeper within and connects me to divine Presence, which lives as peace in my soul. My human grief also lives inside me. Depending on my state of mind, I can see that grief as separate from and larger than the peace or as only a small part of it. I realize that my humanity is actually how my divinity experiences itself on Earth. My human life pushes me further and deeper on my soul journey, until I completely merge with God consciousness.

Meanwhile, there are times on this path, this journey, that the catalyst of fear awakens me to a new level of awareness about the nature of reality and my life in it. I begin to understand that my perceptual framework (which interprets the world around me, and how and what I see) is dependent on whether I am in human fear or divine peace. And the seeming separation and polarity is actually for my own expansion and growth. Eventually, I will abide in peace without the interruption of fear or grief. The wisdom deep in my soul tells me this, and I trust it as the expanses of peace in my daily life become more and more seamless. When the old grief or fear arises, it is clear to me now how they can shape my perceptions. Rain and snow are just experiences; life and death are just experiences—all of them part of the soul’s journey in this world. If I see them as miracles, that is what they are in my experience. And grief gradually dissolves within Presence.