Morning Songs | Ancestral Symphonies

Wheel of Healing

This morning, when the sun had not yet risen and showers of first light were spreading wings over the volcanoes, I listened for the sound. Looking out at the fertile hills of Hawaii, I saw the growth of beauty and heard heavenly music from every bird and blade of grass. The last time I remembered feeling so awed by the symphony of life was the day I came out of the coma and remembered that life was waiting for me, more magnificent than I had ever realized.

When friends and caregivers started asking if I remembered anything from the eleven days in December when I was in an intubated coma, and the two months in hospital beds afterward, I knew I’d been on an extraordinary journey. An overgrowth of Klebsiella pneumonia in my bloodstream had started an inner civil war between life and death. Through three hospitals on my path to recovery, I heard your prayers, I felt your support, and I met and moved with the ancestors.


Moving inwardly through my cells, I found the field around the cells, the membrane (mem-brain!), and the epigenetic radiance glowing inside me. I discovered ancestral memories, visions, and experiences. They travel on waves of light, and one spirit told me humans have more than blood – we have light moving through our veins.

As the barbiturates wore off and the healing medicines pumped into my veins, I was grateful to the Great Mother and Father that it wasn’t cancer. The mass in my liver was a new friend, Klebsiella pneumoniae, a natural but deadly bacteria that thrives usefully in a person’s intestines, doing its part in a happy colony of life forms that make up our microbiome, the third brain (with cranium and heart considered the first and second brains). The Human Microbiome Project says the human body has 100 trillion microscopic life forms living inside us. When the “klebbies” move in unusual ways, they can cause respiratory failure, organ shutdown, and death.

You might think me macabre for loving these little fellas, but honestly, the learnings, insight, and deepened love from their pioneering voyage to remote islands in my body kindled a renewal of the sacred fire. The life-saving journey that brought me so close to death may have diminished my body, but it fed my soul. I wish everyone had the chance without touching into death to experience the remarkable luminosity and bliss at the heart of the cosmos. Oh, wait! We do! We do have access to such knowing, but let’s face it: we tend to forget. We get busy. We have people to see and places to go. We have missions to complete and symphonies to share.

I was deeply grateful for antibiotics that rescued my immune system, which was shutting down because of septic shock. I am so fortunate it was not the highly contagious and dangerous viral COVID-19, but my journey started on almost the same day the novel Coronavirus started spreading in China. My doctors assure me that my “klebbies,” as I affectionately call my renegade crew, are not communicable person-to-person, but what started as fever, cough, runny nose, difficulty breathing, and all-over body ache threatened my life as much as it affirmed my life.

What stays with me is the power of facing fear and loss, and seeing through the veil between this material life and the subtle one beyond. I didn’t run from the fear; I looked closely at it, and I saw it for what it was – FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear is part of life, and something we can learn from. If we don’t learn from it, it can run the subconscious mind and cause disasters.

We each inherit a responsibility in this life, as well as an immeasurable fund of thoughts, ideas, feelings, and spiritual knowledge from those who have come before. This wealth of wisdom, rising up in our very own cells, gives us the passion and patience to accomplish our purpose.


The din of voices I found in the inner movements of my body as I rested, meditated, and healed nourished and awakened me in the dream. The anguish of being sick transformed in conversations that began long ago when as a child I read in bed and connected with spirits long gone – Mirabai, Patanjali, Emerson, Walt Whitman, Jesus of Nazareth, my great aunt Effie, and a shaman known as Bon, from Tibet.

All these voices I’d been hearing for my whole life started to finally make sense. The cacophony settled into a symphony of sound that settled me, leaving the terror and turmoil far behind. I felt at home among the stars.


I realized the true work of our lives is the heart’s spiritual awakening, and that it doesn’t come if we plant untruth and fear and bad seeds. It comes when we nurse the truth, when we face the fears, and when we plant good seeds.

In Yoga, there are five kleshas, or causes of suffering:

AVIDYA – The inability to see things for what they are; this causes us to mistake transient, ego-related matters for permanent, soul-related ones.

ASMITA -The tendency to over-identify with the false ego; this keeps us from connecting with our souls.

RAGA -The flame of desire that causes addiction to pleasure; this discourages us from leaving our comfort zone for more evolved territory.

DVESHA -The aversion to pain; this creates a quicksand-like cycle of misery and self-hatred that can suffocate our will to evolve.

ABHINIVESHA -The fear of death or a clinging to life; this dilutes our focus and interferes with our ability to experience the spiritual freedom that is the goal of yoga.

This last one, Abhinivesha, the fear of death, is the root of all the other afflictions, but once we accept death as a natural part of life, our lives become more clear, saner, and more pleasurable. I am not saying we need to go out and have multiple Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). I am saying that when the fears come up, when the monsters of our imagination roar, we can do the polite thing: invite them to tea, as we would a beloved friend or teacher.

I am still taking Cefdinir, a life-saving cephalosporin antibiotic, and the memories of dreaming and convening with the saints and angels of my better nature, as well as the demons and traumas of past generations, are slowly coming to consciousness. What I am most aware of now is how these many ancestors and spirits stay with us to nurture the wellspring of our souls.


What is the soul? What am I here for? Where did we come from? Where are we going? These are the most significant questions in life. Our evolution leads us to become the people we were born to be and living as if our lives depend on it – they do! The sacred purpose we find in the fertile darkness within illuminates that darkness. We literally learn to see in the dark! The guidance we find here leads to intergenerational healing, which is the key to navigating these perilous times. In fact, the tumultuous times we live in, I believe, have been mostly caused by ignoring the wisdom of the ancestors and the unexamined traumas and scars that we came here to heal.

The souls’ journey is vital to the wellbeing and health of our planet. Dreams, physical disease, and intuitive messages are all part of the journey, but because our culture insists that we are material beings having some spiritual experiences, rather than spirit beings having material experiences, we’ve become hyper-focused on the external world of form. Thus, our interior lives, the life of our subtle senses and the realms of spirit, have suffered.

Through my night journeys in hospital beds, I could hardly move, but the movement continued. The more unaware I was of the outside world, the more superconscious I was of the flowing, floating, and feeling in riverways of light within. I felt like a flightless bird on the shore of a galactic river, with heaven as the waterway, supernovas as the trees. The sky remained still as I traveled motionless through fields of orange and purple.

I cannot adequately describe the movement that was also stillness, but it was a motion that lifted the hair off my skin. I felt like a spreading outward even as the universe drew itself in. I couldn’t imagine a journey like this; I only knew I wanted to find out more. I wanted to hear more of the music played by invisible fingers.

Maybe it was you that played the music. What I know for certain is that you — family, friends, students, clients – teachers all – touched me, although in some cases I was thousands of miles away. And I am forever humbled by your generosity of spirit.

Arriving home after my long night journey, I sent doves of happiness to you, to the gift of dawn, and in every direction. Did you see them? Do you feel them?


That coma, and the hospital stays that came after, kept me from sending you, my cherished friends and readers, a Brave New Viewsletter during these last four months. What it has left me with is the deep wish that we never lose sight of our love for the world of mountains, sunshine, leaves, birdsong, flowers, and flowing water. And for each other. Every morning when I awaken now, I am full of awe and passion for nursing our planet back to health, just I was nursed back to health.

Shortly before I invited my little “klebbies” to ignite more inner light, I was putting the finishing touches on Part 3 of a 6-part series called Yoga and Climate Change. Our species is in real danger. Most people are doing what they can to reverse present trends. Others are not. But if we intend that the global fever will break, that cooler heads will prevail, we can and will rebuild a bright, beautiful, sustainable, and compassionate world. We’re doing it as we uplift, innovate, and spark the radiance in everything we think, say, and activate.

“Toward that end, we must face and transform the fears that tear us apart,” I wrote four months ago, before the blood infection that nearly killed me. I feel it’s even more true today. Ignoring our fears and neglecting real dangers create more ignorance and danger. But inviting the “klebbies” and other potential demons in for tea, to ask politely, as we would ask a child, “And what’s in your heart today?” transforms the fear and danger by bringing us together, by owning all the parts of ourselves, for these are part of our family too. As we treat them kindly, they become kinder too.

Rather than being a daunting task, facing fear, or more precisely, befriending fear, is one of the highest spiritual practices. Learning from our pain, confusion, and fear gives us access to the inner music, the essence, that the darker emotions have been protecting. That’s good Soul Medicine.

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