What a Long, Strange Ride This Year Has Been!

Emerging from the Dark

Have you ever had the feeling of being hungry, but you don’t know what you want? Maybe you open the cupboard or the refrigerator and look at what’s on the shelves, hoping to see something and say, “That’s it, I’ll have that!” But, you don’t find anything you really want to eat.

That’s how I have been about writing this blog post. I am hungry to communicate with you and let you know what’s been going on, yet I hardly know where to begin. Each time over the last several weeks that I have started something, I end up deleting it with the judgment that it’s just too trite or pedestrian for you to bother reading.

As unusual as this feeling is for me, I think I know where it comes from. I feel a sense of being inwardly pushed to be more revealing and vulnerable with you than I usually am in writing. Somehow, what I want to say would be easier to communicate in person, in a group, much like we used to do in our seminars and trainings. Then we could look into and through the eyes of love and my authentic vulnerability charged the room with a kind of grace. Telling the whole truth about fears and feelings joined us through  the heart in our common humanity.

To set a little context for what I am about to share, let me say this up front. This year has been perhaps the most difficult year of our lives. Actually, it’s been going on for a couple of years.

Have you noticed that it is rare to hear teachers of higher consciousness, supposedly enlightened
individuals or modern wisdom givers, talk much about their current or very recent hard times? They
may talk about hard times at some distance in the past, after they have learned and integrated the
lessons and they’re back to being enlightened again. But, you don’t hear or read much from a closer
perspective when things are not yet so clear or when things are still in a state of unsettled chaos.

And that’swhat I want to write about now because that’s where we are. And we have been here
for longer than any previous period like this. I think that’s why it has been so difficult to get to
writing about this, because it is still so close and fresh for us.

So, life has been about acceptance of what’s happening in the moment to what has seemed like
an onslaught of one catastrophe after another, and before we can even catch our breath we find
another anvil falling from the sky! It’s been about being as present as possible to the feelings our
situation has brought up and using all the tools at our disposal for dealing with the ongoing stress
of uncertainty and the accompanying doubt and fear.

Our last posts back in July, August and September have been about my emergency open heart
surgery and early recovery period (http://bit.ly/open-heart-surgery). Thankfully, according to my
surgeon, my physical recovery proceeded ahead of schedule. Having had nothing to compare it to,
it still seemed to be taking entirely too long to suit me!

I was having to listen to my body much more than I was accustomed, causing me to confront my
habitual impatience and push to be productive and get on to the next thing. In the process of
confronting things about myself that had been pretty invisible to me (but not to Layne, of course!),
what emerged was an unexpected level of healing.

As my physical healing progressed and I could tell I was getting better, e.g., being off oxygen and
going for long walks. My stamina and strength was returning. But then I entered an unexpectedly
deep level of depression that caused me to question everything about my life, including why I had
survived in the first place.

Depression and thoughts that death would be a welcome relief startled me into the reality of my
depression and plunged me into deep self-reflection.  Yet, there was no sense in denying the truth
with positive thinking or affirmations. If I did not confront and accept the reality of my depression,
I ran the risk of driving it underground and making it worse through denial.

I noticed how the feelings would come and go, rising and falling in intensity, like large swells on the
ocean.  I became reclusive and did not respond to messages from friends for weeks as I burrowed
deeper into my dark silence.

Another thing that was happening, and still is, was a heightened emotionality. Since I have been on
a path of emotional healing for the last 35 years I have learned to know, respect and express my
feelings. But, this has been something of a different order. I can hear a song, watch scenes of love
and tenderness or violence in a movie or TV show and find myself crying or even sobbing deeply,
way out of proportion to the triggering stimulus.

And over the course of the last few months both Layne and I are aware of deep, personal inner
changes that we are still trying to make sense of. Things have changed, continue to change and so
are we. We have a sense that our work will be changing as a result of our experiences the last couple
of years.

Of all the spiritual studies in which we have engaged, the teaching that has always sustained us
through challenging times of chaos and uncertainty is A Course in Miracles, in particular the lessons
in the Workbook. A Course in Miracles is all about making the shift from ego identification to
identifying yourself as your Soul.

The ego is grounded in fear and is subject to all the conditions and circumstances I have been
talking about here. If we believe that is our reality, our only reality, then we are stuck in those

When we can identify with our Soul, however, then a vast space of peace and calm can open up
for us. We believe what we have been going through (and so many others are also going through,
perhaps even you) has much less to do with processing the effects of our negative, limited ego
mind than it does with a Soul transition. I am certain beyond the shadow of a doubt that my
heart failure and three near death experiences (all on the same day) had to do with my Soul’s
influence over my life.

A Course in Miracles is a radical teaching that can be, and usually is, ego shattering. But, it also
can put you in direct contact with your own Soul or Higher Self. So, being forewarned, below are
the first dozen lessons that have been particularly apropos for us. Perhaps you will find them
helpful, as well.

For example, Lesson 1 says, “Nothing I see in this room (on this street, from this window,
in this place) means anything.”

Lesson 2 – “I have given everything I see in this room (on this street, from this window,
in this place) all the meaning it has for me.”

Lesson 3 – “I do not understand anything I see in this room (on this street, from this
window, in this place).”

Lesson 4 – “These thoughts do not mean anything. They are like the things I see in this
room (on this street, from this window, in this place).”

Lesson 5 – “I am never upset for the reason I think.”

Lesson 6 – “I am upset because I see something that is not there.”

Lesson 7 – “I see only the past.”

Lesson 8 – “My mind is preoccupied with past thoughts.”

Lesson 9 – “I see nothing as it is now.”

Lesson 10 – “My thoughts do not mean anything.”

Lesson 11 – “My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world.”

Lesson 12 – “I am upset because I see a meaningless world.”

Lesson 13 – “A meaningless world engenders fear.”

Lesson 14 – “God did not make a meaningless world.”

A Course in Miracles also teaches that only Love is real and fear is an illusion. The one unchanging
constant through all of this has been and continues to be our love for each other. That is what has
always sustained us through any kind of trial or difficulty. That and the consciousness tools we
have learned and teach.

We will continue to share with you as these changes unfold. And, as always, we welcome your
comments and thoughts.

As this year draws to a close we are being presented with a wonderful opportunity. On January 1, 2012
we are catching a plane for Europe! We have been engaged by some clients to work with their entire
family of five in a six-day Private Intensive Retreat.

We’ll be in Munich, Germany for about a week serving these courageous souls then we will fly to Turin,
Italy for a visit to the Federation of Damanhur, a conscious, eco-society and spiritual community that
has been in existence there for 30 years. (http://www.damanhur.org/)

In fact, Layne applied for and was accepted into a three month “temporary citizenship” program they
began last year. I will be with her for the first week or so to help her get settled, then I will return to
Santa Fe.

This is a HUGE change on many levels and portends wonderful new opportunities and
directions for our life. For one thing, we have never been apart for more than a week at a time
for the last 35 years! We don’t want to speculate too much right now about what those
opportunities and directions might be, but we will definitely keep you posted with more regular
blog posts, photos and possibly videos in the months ahead.

In the meantime, please know how much we appreciate you reading this and being a part of our
lives through this virtual connection. Your thoughts of love, healing and prayers are meaningful
to us beyond words.

We are wishing you and all those whom you love a most blessed holiday!

33 responses to “What a Long, Strange Ride This Year Has Been!”

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Paul. It is eye-opening, truthful, and extremely helpful for going into 2012. Many blessings to you and Layne!

  2. Wow… I feel like a giant restart button has been pushed–and any programs that were running that no longer server had to fall away. The loss leads to grieving –and I understand the depression. It takes courage to say affirmations smaffirmations when it is time to grieve and start all over. I am experiencing something similar now.

    Best blessings to both of you. The time apart will be interesting–reconnecting with self profound.

    Much Love,


  3. I am so touched by the words you have written Paul.
    I want to thank you so very much for your willingness to express your vulnerability.
    You are accurate when you say that those of us who are not spiritual teachers
    often perceive people like you and Layne as not having challenges to face in your lives because you are so much more enlightened than we are.
    Your words are like a “breath of fresh air.”
    They have helped me relax and trust that I’m doing o.k. on my path of personal development even though my progress seems so slow to me.
    We are all doing the best that we can amidst challenging circumstances these days.
    Blessings to you and Layne for the Holiday Season and for the coming year and thank you so very much for sharing.

  4. I love you dearly my precious friends. I am so glad you are on the other side of the surgery, now continuing to heal and heading into ‘the light’ of new directions and adventures.

    I treasure you forever and always.

    your .. ab.

  5. wow – Not sure yet why I needed to read this, but the timing was apparently right – I was drawn in. We’re all on individual journeys yet always interrealated – by sharing this story so clearly and openly, I am one among many gaining new connections to my own soul. Thank you.

    And now the new year begins with a change of environment, new people, experiences – I know your journey will continue to benefit many.

  6. My heart was deeply touched as I read of your courageous journey. What a gift to all of us as you shared so beautifully.

    Since our broken conversations awhile ago until our recent connection, we have been holding you extra close with love and prayers. Your path is one of great service and I know the future is glorious as we step into these new times. Your light and leadership are a blessing to the world. Your willingness to go so deep and share so beautifully has been a huge gift to me and I’m sure to all who read it.
    With much love dearest Paul and Layne – safe travels

  7. From one of the many thousands whose lives you have touched so profoundly, I wish you the greatest success and good fortune! Thank you for sharing your transformative experiences and the insights you have won. Heart to heart communication is the very core of unconditional love and may well be the one most powerful keys to world peace. Without it, we have become a collection of warring tribes, now armed with weapons so terrible they threaten the existence of life on this planet. Blind patriotism is the ultimate ego delusion and belies our belief in universal human rights. There is no ‘them’ and ‘us.’ Only lost family members we haven’t taken in yet.

  8. Nothing more uplifting to a fellow human soul than an outreach of genuine communication from under a genuinely dark night. Bless your shining light of being with us, and please consider to stay along for another while ;-).

  9. I am so blessed by your candor and revelations. You both have been in my heart and mind as I would hold gently a dear friend in times of trial and transformation though we’ve never met. ACIM is one of my touchstones as well and like you has carried me along during my greatest challenges.
    Thank you for your courage, raw honesty and shining your light during times of darkness.

  10. Dear, Dear Paul, You write so beautifully, so from the heart, your brand new healthy heart!! Thank you so much for sharing all your news with us before you embark on your great new adventure. Have a wonderful journey, in every sense of the word!!
    Looking forward to seeing some of your exquisite photos of the trip.
    Joy & happiness to you & Layne in 2012.

  11. Dear Paul & Layne,

    Thank you for sharing an aspect of life so deep and personal. As usual you two lead the way with sharing your “truth” as a teaching for us all.

    This last year has also been one of the most challenging for us as well and now we reap the rewards of all the year’s hard work Seems we have been primed to go into 2012 with alot under our belt and now moving forward into 2012 with new exciting experiences ahead.

    Know you are in our hearts always.

  12. I really appreciate your honesty about your experiences this year. I am glad you are making a good recovery from your operation, but as the body heals so must the psyche, for the event impacted on both. Be gentle with yourself, there is no set timetable for recovery from such a major event. You are both in our thoughts, with gratitude for all that you share, and warmest wishes for good health, both physical and emotional, in 2012. Good luck for your trip to Europe!

  13. Love to you both. Thank you for sharing from your heart. Wishing you abundant joy in every moment. My connection with you has been life changing. I am in Glastonbury now – heart chakra of the world. If you have never been here maybe it could be a possibility to add to your European Tour? It is an amazing place of healing. Hugs xxx

  14. yes, it takes lionhearted courage, which you both have in abundance, to die into a new life; I understand so well the darkness of that night, and can only imagine the depth of your future manifestations, arising as that phoenix. My love and support are with you both on your journeys of creation, authenticity and love, with much gratitude for sharing yourselves. prudence

  15. Steve and I send our love to you both. Thank you, Paul, for sharing your healing journey so honestly. It is an inspiration to trust the dark places. And to know where to look for the light in the darkness. The two of you continue to be great teachers. Thank you.

  16. dearest paul .. thank you for the depth of vulnerability authenticity and courage to share about your journey through the “dark night of the soul” that you and layne have endured..
    you are and will always be an inspiration to me and everyone who has the good fortune to know you..
    a masterful gifted expert in your field..and one of the sweetest most innocent precious loving souls I have ever known.. bar none..
    I cherish and adore you ……….. in deepest gratitude…….. sacha

  17. Dear Paul and Layne,
    Thank you for sharing so deeply from you heart. So much you say touches me.
    After coming back from 3 1/2 months Damanhur to Costa Rica I felt like living in-between two worlds. Then I had a very bad fall and broke my “humorous” bone in my arm into pieces along with the rotator cuff. 7 weeks totally immobilized could do nothing for myself, helpless, scared, aware, observing – I journeyed through many levels. Deep deep sadness, feeling death very close, and crying crying crying, everything seems to touch me so deeply. This is still going on, maybe I know your words and experience. Precious, intwined with all life, and still so personal. Where will it lead? I am in surrender with the option of renting a Flying Carpet 🙂 still miss Damanhur very much. Will be back end April next year, for 6 months. How exiting, you will be in DH soon, and Layne will do the New Life program. If you would like to Skype please call, there are a few tips I would like to give Layne. My Skype name is uvaearth (I wrote this to you a good while ago but did not hear from you back). Wonderful book to read about Damanhur by Jeff Merrifield (out of print but available used on Amazon), giving you lots of insight and understanding about the history of DH, which is difficult to get even living there.
    Sending you both lots of love and light for the journey, knowing that the Universe is always guiding us, especially in these times of such great changes on all levels. Namaste – Con Voi – Uva

  18. It was so good to hear from you. It is my hope that things will work out well for both of you. I have richly enjoyed your posts, pics, and other comments over time and continue to look forward to them. Blessings!

  19. Thank you, dear ones, for sharing your process and path along the way. So glad to hear about Paul getting better and both of you being able to do this amazing work in Europe. Damanhur will be a place to feed Layne’s soul. Be well my beloved friends.

  20. Bravo!! Thank you so very much for sharing so deeply and speaking so truthfully. What an incredible journey, so rich and full, so awesome and terrible, so ripe with LIFE!! Indeed you “have” so as others can see what is possible.

    I anxiously await the next installment. The journey begins anew, Europe, Damanhur, remarkable photos of the world seen through that exceptional photographers eye of yours. Ou la la, let the adventure continue!!

  21. Soooooo good to hear from you again! I so appreciate your willingness to be real, vulnarable and authentic – you never put yourselves up on pedestals of greatness or say “I’m the only one!” – and that’s one of the things we love about you!

    I won’t say I’m sorry you’ve been having such a challenging time, because at the end of it I’m betting it will have been one of the most awe-inspiring, amazing opportunities for growth ever. Doesn’t say it isn’t hard by any means, tho, eh wot?

    Just know my heart is always with you and I think of you and send my love often – let us know what’s next when you can.

    I can’t wait to hear Layne’s impression of the Damanhur experience – I’ve been watching them for years.

    I have a new radio show focusing on revealing simple, practical ways to create passion, prosperity and laughter using ways that are beyond energy practices – want to be my guest one day soon? Would love it – let me know –

    aloha –

    • Thanks, Angela! Your comments and sharing mean a lot and we feel your love surrounding us. Stay tuned for info and updates on Damanhur!

      Love — P&L

  22. Thank You Paul and Layne for sharing with me. The Course in Miracle also has a resonance for me, having guided me through a difficult stage in my development some years ago. Thanks again for sharing.

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