Going Home

What does it feel like to die? By Anita Moorjani

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Oh my God, I feel incredible! I’m so free and light! How come I’m not feeling any more pain in my body? Where has it all gone? Hey, why does it seem like my surroundings are moving away from me? But I’m not scared! Why am I not scared? Where has my fear gone? Oh wow, I can’t find the fear anymore!

These were some of my thoughts as I was being rushed to the hospital. The world around me started to appear surreal and dreamlike, and I could feel myself slip farther and farther away from consciousness and into a coma. My organs were beginning to shut down as I succumbed to the cancer that had ravaged—no, devoured—my body for the past four years.

It was February 2, 2006, a day that will be etched in my memory forever as the day I “died.”

Although in a coma, I was acutely aware of everything that was happening around me, including the sense of urgency and emotional frenzy of my family as they rushed me to the hospital. When we arrived, the moment the oncologist saw me, her face filled with shock.

“Your wife’s heart may still be beating,” she told my husband, Danny, “but, she’s not really in there. It’s too late to save her.”Who is the doctor talking about? I wondered. I’ve never felt better in my life! And why do Mum and Danny look so frightened and worried? Mum, please don’t cry. What’s wrong? Are you crying because of me? Don’t cry! I’m fine, really, dear Mama, I am! I thought I was speaking those words aloud, but nothing came out. I had no voice.

I wanted to hug my mother, comfort her and tell her that I was fine, and I couldn’t comprehend why I was unable to do so. Why was my physical body not cooperating? Why was I just lying there, lifeless and limp, when all I wanted to do was to hug my beloved husband and mother, assuring them that I was fine and no longer in pain?

Look, Danny—I can move around without my wheelchair. This feels so amazing! And I’m not connected to the oxygen tank anymore. Oh wow, my breathing is no longer labored, and my skin lesions are gone! They’re no longer weeping and painful. After four agonizing years, I’m finally healed!

I was in a state of pure joy and jubilation. Finally, I was free from the pain caused by the cancer that had ravaged my body. I wanted them to be happy for me. Why weren’t they happy that my struggle was finally over, that their struggle was over? Why weren’t they sharing my jubilation? Couldn’t they see the joy I was feeling?

“Please, there must be something you can do,” Danny and my mother pleaded with the doctor.“It’s only a matter of hours for her,” the oncologist argued. “Why didn’t your other doctors send her to us earlier? Her organs are already shutting down, and that’s why she has slipped into a coma. She won’t even make it through the night. You’re asking for the impossible. Whatever we administer at this stage could prove too toxic and fatal for her body, as her organs aren’t even functioning!” “Well, maybe,” Danny insisted, “but I’m not giving up on her!”

My husband held my limp hand tightly as I lay there, and I was aware of the combination of anguish and helplessness in his voice. I wanted more than anything to relieve him of his suffering. I wanted him to know how wonderful I was feeling, but I felt helpless in trying to convey it.

Don’t listen to the doctor, Danny; please don’t listen to her! Why is she saying that? I’m still here, and I’m fine. Better than fine—in fact, I feel great!

I couldn’t understand why, but I experienced what everyone was going through—both my family members as well as the doctor. I could actually feel their fear, anxiety, helplessness, and despair. It was as though their emotions were mine. It was as though I became them.

I’m feeling your pain, darling—I can feel all your emotions. Please don’t cry for me, and tell Mum not to cry for me, either. Please tell her!

But as soon as I started to get emotionally attached to the drama taking place around me, I also felt myself being simultaneously pulled away, as though there were a bigger picture, a grander plan that was unfolding. I could feel my attachment to the scene receding as I began to realize that everything was perfect and going according to plan in the greater tapestry.

It was then that the realization truly set in that I was actually dying.
Ohh . . . I’m dying! Is this what it feels like? It’s nothing like I ever imagined. I feel so beautifully peaceful and calm . . . and I feel healed at last!I then understood that even if my physical body stopped, everything is still perfect in the greater tapestry of life, for we never truly die.

I was still acutely aware of every detail unfolding before me as I observed the medical team wheeling my near-lifeless body to the intensive care unit. They were surrounding me in an emotional frenzy, hooking me up to machines while poking and prodding with needles and tubes.

I felt no attachment to my limp body as it lay there on the hospital bed. It didn’t feel as though it were mine. It looked far too small and insignificant to house what I was experiencing. I felt free, liberated, and magnificent! Every pain, ache, sadness, and sorrow was gone. I was completely unencumbered, and I couldn’t recall feeling this way before—not ever.

I then had a sense of being encompassed by something that I can only describe as pure, unconditional love, but even the word love doesn’t do it justice. It was the deepest kind of caring, and I’d never experienced it before. It was beyond any physical form of affection that we can imagine, and it was unconditional—this was mine, regardless of what I’d ever done. I didn’t have to do anything or behave a certain way to deserve it. This love was for me, no matter what!

I felt completely bathed and renewed in this energy, and it made me feel as though I belonged, as though I’d finally arrived after all those years of struggle, pain, anxiety, and fear.

I had finally come home!

Only a Flashlight

How do you see reality?

By Anita Moorjani

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Although I try to share my near-death experience, there are no words that can come close to describing its depth and the amount of knowledge that came flooding through. So the best way to express it is through the use of metaphors and analogies. Hopefully, they capture a part of the essence of what I’m trying to convey at least in some small way.

Imagine, if you will, a huge, dark warehouse. You live there with only one flashlight to see by. Everything you know about what’s contained within this enormous space is what you’ve seen by the beam of one small flashlight. Whenever you want to look for something, you may or may not find it, but that doesn’t mean the thing doesn’t exist. It’s there, but you just haven’t shone your light on it. And even when you do, the object you see may be difficult to make out. You may get a fairly clear idea of it, but often you’re left wondering. You can only see what your light is focused on, and only identify that which you already know.

That is what physical life is like. We’re only aware of what we focus our senses on at any given time, and we can only understand what is already familiar.

Next, imagine that one day, someone flicks on a switch. There for the first time, in a sudden burst of brilliance and sound and color, you can see the entire warehouse, and it’s nothing like anything you’d ever imagined. Lights are blinking, flashing, glowing, and shooting sparks of red, yellow, blue, and green. You see colors you don’t recognize, ones you’ve never seen before. Music floods the room with fantastic, kaleidoscopic, surround-sound melodies you’ve never heard before.

Neon signs pulse and boogie in rainbow strobes of cherry, lemon, vermillion, grape, lavender, and gold. Electric toys run on tracks up, down, and around shelves stacked with indescribable colored boxes, packages, papers, pencils, paints, inks, cans of food, packages of multihued candies, bottles of effervescent sodas, chocolates of every possible variety, champagne, and wines from every corner of the world. Skyrockets suddenly explode in starbursts, setting off sparkling flowers, cascades of cold fire, whistling embers, and animations of light.

The vastness, complexity, depth, and breadth of everything going on around you is almost overwhelming. You can’t see all the way to the end of the space, and you know there’s more to it than what you can take in from this torrent that’s tantalizing your senses and emotions. But you do get a strong feeling that you’re actually part of something alive, infinite, and altogether fantastic, that you are part of a large and unfolding tapestry that goes beyond sight and sound.

You understand that what you used to think was your reality was, in fact, hardly a speck within the vast wonder that surrounds you. You can see how all the various parts are interrelated, how they all play off each other, how everything fits. You notice just how many different things there are in the warehouse that you’d never seen, never even dreamed of existing in such splendor and glory of color, sound, and texture—but here they are, along with everything you already knew. And even the objects you were aware of have an entirely new context so that they, too, seem completely new and strangely superreal.

Even when the switch goes back off, nothing can take away your understanding and clarity, the wonder and beauty, or the fabulous aliveness of the experience. Nothing can ever cancel your knowledge of all that exists in the warehouse. You’re now far more aware of what’s there, how to access it, and what’s possible than you ever were with your little flashlight. And you’re left with a sense of awe over everything you experienced in those blindingly lucid moments. Life has taken on a different meaning, and your new experiences moving forward are created from this awareness.

Your Significant…Self? How To Be The Best YOU For Any Relationship

That famous country song said we were looking for love in “all the wrong places” but maybe we were actually looking in all the wrong ways. You might have a “list” of what you are looking for in your ideal mate or you might be looking for that special someone who “completes you”. In the process you might be bringing in that same person who we may think is our type yet the reality to finding love successfully may be asking the question, “What type are we?”

Before you put on your Friday night best or log back on to your favorite hook-up website again let’s take a minute to look and feel your best about the most important person in the next relationship, YOU! It is absolutely true that we attract what and who we are in to our lives. When it comes to bringing in our friendships and romantic relations what we radiate is something I call, “The Law of Attractive”. It is the true beauty that can’t be painted on or pumped up in the gym, instead it is the kind of amazing that, when you have the confidence to let it shine, will bring in the perfect person who compliments you not completes you.

I recently had a client I was coaching and after we conquered her work fears she said that her next goal was to get back into a relationship. Of course, no one who wants a relationship truly wants just anyone, they want Mr. or Ms. Right! And most of us know in our hearts exactly what that means, when someone asks we unfurl that dreaded “List”! It is the magic, 10-foot long scroll with every physical, emotional, and spiritual quality that we think we need in a mate to be happy. I asked her what was on her list and she rattled off things like; patient, extroverted, and easy-going. I have to back up by saying I had already been working with her for a few months, and, while she was working on herself currently, she was none of those things. So when I asked how her manhunt was going she said sadly that the people she was dating were none of those things. Shocker!

So where do you start? Think about the phrase, “He” or “She” is a good match for me. You don’t match socks by finding some that go nicely with each other, you match them by finding two that are as close to each other as possible.

– Make your list. Make a note of all the attributes you would find important in a long-term or forever type relationship. Be sure to list more than just physical qualities like dark hair and full lips, the values that you find important such as; honesty, integrity, loyalty, and compassion, will play a much bigger role in the long-term success of your partnership.

– Check it twice. Before you start on your scavenger hunt for love, check the list once for yourself first. If there are areas that you find important in someone else think about if you have them. If you don’t, there is nothing wrong with taking some time to work on you.

– Pay close attention to who is naughty and who is nice. All too often when don’t stick to our list out of fear of rejection, (something), or maybe just a physical connection that we mistake for love but the whole time the alarms are going off inside us to run. Trust your gut here and know that when the time is right for you and that special someone it will work out.

While there may not be a club, church, or online dating site to find true love there is one place that holds the magic of cupid’s arrow, your heart. Find that and honor it and you will be fully capable of loving someone else. Love and be loved, it starts with you!

Michelle Phillips is the author of the bestselling beauty and self-esteem book, “The Beauty Blueprint- 8 Steps to Building the Life and Look of your Dreams” (Hay House) is now available on major book sites. You can listen to her live onMondays at 12pm est on www.HayHouseRadio.com . She is also a regular guest on the national TV shows, The Daily Buzz, GalTime, and Daytime. www.michellephillips.com

Miracles Can Happen – TRUST

My last day of work at Head Start was on Thursday, August 2, 2012. I had the opportunity to see Michelle Phillips own the stage as our guest speaker and watch her facilitate workshop sessions for our staff. To be able to see staff that I have worked with for over six years go through the Beauty Blueprint Process and their reaction to the process was so neat to witness and watch unfold. Their eyes lit up, they felt empowered, valued, and motivated to take action. It was so fun to watch after going through the process myself.

My supervisor said some closing words of gratitude to me at the end of Pre Service. She gave me flowers and a photo album with personal notes from staff. To have Michelle with me on my last day of work and to start the Coaching Circle retreat that weekend was the perfect time to celebrate the closing of a significant chapter in my life and my 39th birthday. A huge part of my identity was stripped away and to have so much love and support around me was a blessing in disguise as I even turned a year older, closer to 40.

We smiled, we talked, we shared, we laughed, we cried, we stayed in the present moment and we healed ourselves and one another. I got a lot of take aways from the weekend and these are just a few:

To know that all will be OK. Sometimes and at least for me it feels good to hear it from another person as a reminder.
To laugh. It is so important to not take life so seriously and radiate not only your laughter out to others, but also notice what happens when the laughter affects others or situations around you. The more positive you are, the more positive things will be around you.
To have fun, be silly and not act my age. Ahhh, tubes and placebos can go a long way and reminded me, as well as gave me permission to be a kid again.
To take time to explore. To be open to receive the messages that are coming to you based on individuals in your life, opportunities that arise, or situations that occur in your life.
To trust yourself, seek clarity and not rush it. When you get clarity and you take your time to work through the emotions and situation at hand (whatever that is) you are most likely to be doing something that you love to do that is aligned with your spiritual truth, as well as your value system. The values that I selected out of Michelle’s book and that are the top three: Security, Connection and Spirituality. You can never go wrong with trusting what your heart is telling you to do regardless of outcome.
To voice my fears and not be scared to let others know. To surround myself with supportive people. communicate my needs, be able to talk to others about what I am fearful of and allow myself to be vulnerable. When you open yourself up to others it is so freeing not only for yourself but also an opportunity for others to give back to me.
To network and learn. To take this time to observe, listen, receive the messages or signs that are coming to me and learn, as well as grow from each person or experience will only help to become a better me.
Just over a year ago, I embarked on a new adventure and opportunity to join Michelle Phillips first Coaching Circle for Woman. It was one of those decisions that I made in my life without even thinking about it. I continued to participate in her circle of support up until tonight which was my last one. Another chapter in my life closing in my life out of many.

All of this is a true testament to the miracles that are occurring in my life each and every day. I went with what my heart was guiding me to do next. You can never go wrong with that. I learned in Michelle’s Coaching Circle throughout this year as another big take away, that there is no such thing as failure only outcomes. Regardless of what those outcomes are, you learn and grow from them. Making room for the new-OH the possibilities are endless.

The Beauty of Freedom

In addition to celebrating Independence Day, this year we are also exercising the freedom to choose our next President. No matter which side of the political fence you are on that freedom is certainly worth appreciating. After working for all of the major TV networks and world leaders during election years I am very excited to announce that I have been chosen to be the Head of Makeup and Image for the Republican National Convention in Tampa! They will have me leading a team of makeup artists and stylist to ensure that candidates and supporters we have to choose from will have a polished, professional image.

Which brings me to my next subject…

Are you making a strong first impression?

Whenever I am hired for my image services it’s rarely to make someone look like a glamour queen. In the case of the upcoming RNC I will be tasked with helping people achieve what we should all be going for; a look that is knowledgeable, credible, and trustworthy.

Studies have shown that we have exactly seven seconds to make a first impression. More importantly, we have seven seconds to make a GREAT, and lasting, first impression.

After reading that your mind might be drifting off to taking a mental inventory of your closet thinking, if I were headed out for a big interview or to potentially meet Mr. or Ms. Right I know exactly what I would wear. Then you may think, but if the person or job was meant for me should it even matter what I was wearing? The answer there would be yes…in a way.

Whether you are entering the job market, looking for a mate, or creating personal or professional relationships of any kind, making positive imprint relies as much on the emotions you are wearing as the clothes you pick out.

While many stylists put all their effort-and yours-into creating an outward image, what I would like to concentrate on for a minute is your inner image. By knowing who you are spiritually, emotionally and physically you will create the image you want to project on the outside. Doing this will make your look about so much more than just well-thought out fashions or the ideal haircut: it will be about radiating your uniquely beautiful qualities in a way that won’t just turn heads, you will turn hearts!

To get started it’s time for a quick and honest assessment. Think for a minute about how others see you. Do people find you sincere, interesting, open, or engaging? If not, it might not be your wardrobe but rather something in the way of a vibe you are putting off? So before you put on your clothes every day, figure out if you are already dressed with enthusiasm, excitement, and an overall positive outlook or are you stressed, overwhelmed, angry, fearful, or lost? By acknowledging any of the issues that you may be dealing with you can strip away any unintended negative messages you might be projecting.

Next, when it comes to your clothes, I tell my clients to think of dressing for a job interview, every day. However, don’t think of it as getting “dressed up,” you are dressing to move up! Too many of us have gotten a bit too “casual” and wonder why we are getting passed up for promotions or treated beneath the level of person that we are. In order to be treated with the respect we so richly deserve we have to remember to present ourselves that way physically and believe it our hearts.

There are many ways to express who you are in your wardrobe, the most important facet to remember is to dress in a way that is appropriate for your profession by choosing clothes that will have you are perceived as; knowledgeable, credible, and trustworthy.

“People who dress in a professional manner everyday are twice as likely to be promoted and earn up to 20% more income.” – Social Psychology Quarterly

The market for a job or a mate is truly only as hard as we want it to be. The next time you are headed out the door, take a second to think about the fiery passion for life that burns within you. Open the door to your heart and let the world gather around your warmth.

written by Bestselling author, Celebrity Makeup Artist, Radio & TV Personality Michelle Phillips

Quick 5-Minute Meditation for Dispelling Depression, Anxiety, and Fear

In our modern day world where high stress is the norm, our brains have not yet learned to differentiate a real threat from a perceived threat, so any stress kicks the brain into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode. The results? Symptoms that mirror or include anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. This can be devastating and debilitating to deal with, but there are a lot of coping skills that can help us retrain our brains and bodies to react differently.

Meditation is a great tool to use that can be done anywhere by anyone. Studies have shown many benefits, including: decreased blood pressure; increased oxygen to the cells; slowed activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear; and a shift in brain waves from the stress prone right frontal cortex into the calmer left frontal cortex. This literal shift in brain wave activity accounts for the shift in mood that meditators experience.

One of the easiest meditations to do is a Kundalini yoga meditation I call “555”, which usespranayama, or controlled breathing. This meditation can be done in as little as a minute, but anywhere from five to ten minutes is ideal.

  1. Find a comfortable position for you. Straighten your spine.
  2. Place your palms upward.
  3. Gently release your tongue from the roof of your mouth.
  4. Inhale for a 5 count.
  5. Hold your breath for a 5 count.
  6. Exhale for a 5 count.
  7. Repeat.
  8. As you are doing this, you are also invited to do a body scan from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Notice any areas that are holding tension and breathe into these areas.

As we practice our meditation and breathing, our mind may wander. We may lose focus or lose count. That’s okay. Just bring it back to the breath.

April Dawn Ricchuito, D.D. & MSW is a writer, speaker, and integrative practitioner who brings a unique voice to the field of health and wellness by combining traditional evidence-based techniques with ancient practices such as yoga and newer findings in contemplative sciences. She has been recognized as a part of “Generation Inspiration” and is also named as one of 20 Young Champions for Women by the White Ribbon Alliance and WIE Symposium, presented by Donna Karan and Arianna Huffington. You can follow April on Facebook or Twitter. Visit http://www.beingandwellness.com to learn about services she offers, including Reiki & coaching, or http://www.verbalvandalism.com to check out her latest written works.

Sit, Stay, Heal!

sit-stay-healNegative emotions are not fun to feel. They hurt. Oftentimes, to avoid feeling the pain, we will numb ourselves and stop feeling all together- or we will mask our pain by engaging in unhealthy habits like excessive eating, spending, drinking, or drugs. We may feel hopeless or that these feelings will never go away. Darkness, doubt, and fear may have become our constant companions. We may even come to identify with them and hold on to them because it’s all we know.

These feelings can “go away”. We are not victims to circumstance and feelings- we are creators and we can be choose to be victors instead of victims. We can choose to continue to allow our negative experiences to create our reality or we can work through these feelings and invite in experiences that feel better energetically.

Instead of rejecting our negative feelings or energy, we should explore these aspects of ourselves. It’s time to get comfortable with our discomfort and make friends with it. These moments are teachable moments and they are an incredible growth opportunity.

We need to learn to sit with our discomfort and we need to learn to stay with our discomfort so that we can work through it. Think of a puppy whom you teach to sit, stay, and heel. This is your invitation to sit, stay, and heal.

Think of the warm feelings of loving kindness that you would feel towards a puppy and extend those feelings to yourself. (You deserve this!) Think of the patience you would have for a new puppy as you are teaching him new tricks. You wouldn’t get angry because he can’t sit on his first try or because he can’t stay for more than two minutes right away. Not at all! Instead you would praise him for the 30 seconds he managed to do. You would delight in the fact that in a few days from now he manages a whole minute. You would enjoy the work of teaching your new pupil as well.

Treat yourself like that puppy. You know he’s a baby and you treat him accordingly. As a species, we humans are babies in our evolution as well. Have patience with yourself. Enjoy working with yourself. Learn to sit with your discomfort; learn to stay sitting, and you will teach yourself to heal. You will teach yourself how to transmute these feelings into opportunities for growth and positivity.

Happy healing journey to you!

April Dawn Ricchuito, D.D. & MSW is a writer, speaker, and integrative practitioner who brings a unique voice to the field of health and wellness by combining traditional evidence-based techniques with ancient practices such as yoga and newer findings in contemplative sciences. She has been recognized as a part of “Generation Inspiration” and is also named as one of 20 Young Champions for Women by the White Ribbon Alliance and WIE Symposium, presented by Donna Karan and Arianna Huffington. You can follow April on Facebook or Twitter. Visit http://www.beingandwellness.com to learn about services she offers, including Reiki & coaching, or Verbal Vandalism to check out her latest written works. She is now taking on new Reiki clients.

By April Dawn Ricchuito, D.D. & MSW