If my younger self met me as I am now, on a spiritual path, with a spiritual teacher, I reckon she would raise her eyebrows & would doubt that I was of sound mind. I’m pretty sure she would laugh at the thought of it all.
I was a very different person back then. I carried around a lot of baggage about my difficult childhood: an angry, stressed out, abusive father; a mother who left when I was 9; traumatic accidents; feeling unsupported, unloved, and often dismissed. I had closed off my heart, I didn’t allow myself to feel anything, I prided myself on being tough, I rarely cried, and didn’t let love in or out. I was off the rails as a teenager. To escape my pain I drank, took drugs, and sought the attention of guys. Trusting others was really hard for me.
It started to catch up with me in my thirties. I’d always had anger issues, but an intense and painful raging argument with my best friend at the time really shook me up and made me see I couldn’t go on like that. If I did something “stupid,” I would berate myself in a crazy frenzy that would last for days. Like accidentally leaving a wallet in a taxi in Chicago. Oh my, that was a corker! I thought it was normal to respond in that over-reacting, judgemental, stressed-out kind of way. I’d learned these behaviors from both of my parents. It was so toxic to my body. I had a dark cloud attached to me by a string, that followed me everywhere I went.
When my eldest child was approaching the age that I was when my mum left, I found it hard to cope with what was being triggered in me. One of my closest friends, Alison, introduced me to Reiki, and that marked the beginning of my healing. I went on to train in Reiki and other healing modalities and set up a business as a healer. With every course I took, and every experience I had, I felt lighter and better, but I was still plagued by low self-esteem and unlovability
A few years later, another dear friend, Annette, talked to me about her experiences with Gangaji. She suggested I read The Diamond in Your Pocket. I loved it and bought the audio version too. I experienced Gangaji’s voice, and her teachings, percolating into my being. I still listen to that every year. I read her other books and joined the monthly online meetings. Something deep inside of me knew to pay attention to the energy that lay underneath her words. Shifts were taking place.
In 2014 I was lucky enough to attend one of her retreats in Maui, Hawaii. That was when my life began to transform dramatically. From then on, I stopped trying to fix myself and instead opened to everything that I’d hidden away so expertly inside of myself. I gave myself permission to feel it all, without the deeply familiar, painful stories from my past. Compassion and immense gratitude came pouring into my being. I forgave myself and others for perceived “wrongs”. ‘For the first time in my life my heart cracked open and I began to experience true self-love. For me just as I am, not as I’d like to be, or would like others to see me as, but as Rachel, with all my faults and attributes.
These days I know from my own experiences of being around those who have also caught fire, that it is in our eyes, it oozes out of our beings and is carried to others who come into our orbit. There is no job to be done. What became apparent was the importance of being true to myself, and opening to everything that arises in me. Everything is welcome. The challenge is to be still when the desire arises to seek acceptance, respect, or love outside of myself. It is from that place that I show up in the world.
I frequently find myself getting lost along the way through life. Times when I get overly stressed about small things, forget my true nature, and get caught up in my thoughts, my stories, indulge in searching outside of myself for things to fulfill me. I notice at these times I’ve stopped listening to my body, I’m existing in my overactive mind, and have dived deeply into that familiar fantasy world, one of my strategies for escaping reality. Thankfully it rarely takes long before I catch myself at it, see it for what it is, and then simply open to the thread that underlies what presented itself on the surface. A sense of peace and stillness is soon restored.
As the years pass, I’m opening more and more to trusting the universe, trusting Love, instead of trying to control every single detail of my life. That control gig was exhausting and never got me anywhere worth going. These days I’m doing my best to get out of the way and create the space for life to come to me.
How would I respond to that younger self now? I’d invite her in for tea, give her a big hug, tell her how much I love her, and let her know that I support her fully and will always be there for her. She would look into my eyes, see, hear and feel the powerful energies of love, forgiveness, and compassion, and know herself in an instant, to be lovable and accepted.
Rachel moved from England to the US with her family in 2006, and currently lives in Connecticut with her husband and their dog, Molly. Her kids have grown and flown. She loves to paint flowers, landscapes and flows of energy, and still works with clients now and then, guiding them to the stillness inside.
“This is your resting place, your watering hole. Find what supports you, what includes you, and drink it in. Be nourished. Be enlivened. And when you feel thirsty again, drink some more.” —Gangaji
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