My Path To Spiritual Awakening

Thank you for coming to these pages, where I share my story and winding journey to this work of love.

Spiritual Awakening to Consciousness and Healing

The path to spiritual awakening is not a linear, straight path. Each of us comes to it in our own way. And we can learn by knowing the stories of others. Here is mine – I hope it helps you.

Trauma and the Opening

I learned the hard way that life gives you what you need to grow, not what you want.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I had a challenging childhood, giving me plenty to work on therapy sessions for many years. My city is a vibrant, energetic multi-ethnic, multicultural mixture of, among others, primarily Spanish and Italian immigrants. Argentinians are passionate, opinionated people who hold themselves in high regard. I was like that, too.

More than twenty years ago, I came to the US to visit friends and was violently raped by the very person who had encouraged me to come.  I lost everything—including my passport—and was suddenly homeless. A community center in SF sheltered me and helped me ground myself by becoming a volunteer. Because I’m a licensed psychotherapist in Argentina, I provided therapy to refugees from El Salvador and Nicaragua at the agency. Most of them were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The San Francisco mental health community heard about me through this work. They asked me to give lectures and presentations to agencies. Also, case presentations at San Francisco State University. This led to a position as Director of a Mental Health Residential Treatment Program for people in crisis, and San Francisco became my new home.

Ten years later

In 1998, I was driving from my job at the crisis center in San Francisco to my home in Berkeley. A car driving in the wrong direction on the bridge came straight at me! The pavement was wet and oily from the rain. I thought I was going to die for sure because there was no way I could get out of the way.

Somehow, the driver of the other car and I both stopped within inches of each other.  I don’t remember how that happened, but when I next looked up, the cars around us had stopped, and the bright blue eyes of the other driver were staring at me.

He turned his car around, and I, in a state of shock, automatically followed him until he exited. I continued toward Berkeley.

My heart was pounding; my body started shaking and shaking. From deep in my core, a loud sound swelled up and roared from me.

After some minutes, I realized that I needed something to soothe my emotions and the shaking. My body felt like it was in tiny pieces. I knew that I needed a massage.

Jump! The best is yet to come

The Mystical Masseur

But when I arrived, the masseur was ready to leave. I told him what had just happened, and thankfully, he agreed to work on me. I felt wonderful as he worked. The shaking stopped, and my body felt like it was in one piece again.

As I stood up, it was another story. Suddenly I was so dizzy I couldn’t stand it.

The masseur said, “This is because the shock of this (near-death) experience made your soul leave your body.”

Hopi Tribe – Grand Canyon

Though I come from a lineage of curanderas   (healers) in Argentina, I was an intellectual and an atheist who had absolutely no time for this kind of spiritual mumbo-jumbo. To me, the mind was the ultimate force and tool we have to use in our lives.

I respected other peoples’ beliefs, but I had no belief in a soul — souls were for people who go to church.

Back in 1998, with my fierce psychoanalytic perspective on the world, hearing that my soul left my body sounded like the worst kind of deception. And it was certainly nothing you should do to someone in the vulnerable post-traumatic state.

So when the masseur said my soul had left my body, I thought, No way. But I can’t walk right now; I need to sit. I sat near him while he packed up his equipment and gathered enough energy to drive again.

While he packed, he asked me to close my eyes and began to talk about water. A beautiful scene where the water runs down the mountain to the waterfall into the rivers and streams. I listened to him with my eyes closed, and when I opened my eyes after he finished talking, everything looked different — brighter, more precise.

I felt wonderful!

I told him that I had felt a decisive touch during his talk, almost a punch on my chest. He instantly promised that he hadn’t touched me at all.

“I know,” I said, “because I opened my eyes when I felt it. You were over there, very busy and not even looking at me.”

“Well,” he said, “that was when your soul came back to your body; that’s when it entered.” Yeah, right, I thought. Here we go with the spiritual nonsense. But something stuck with me, and I took his business card.

All that restless night, I kept waking up in shock and trauma, seeing the lights of the car heading straight at me.

A Bridge Forms

The next day was a meeting of the program directors, CEO, and managers of the organization I worked with. One of the managers asked to talk with me and told me about a problem with my program. I gave him my perception of the situation, and he stepped out of the office to confer with my clinical supervisor. When they came back, I was shaking again because of the trauma from the evening before. I told them about the near-accident, and they sent me home, telling me to take care of myself.

So I dug out his card and called the masseur. Thankfully, he could see me. Over four or five weeks, I saw him regularly, and he did a technique called “re-posturing” on me.

One day I cried as he moved his hands over me, without even touching me.

I had a breakthrough — I remembered my soul!

I told him how my childhood had been full of healing practices. My mother and other relatives successfully used to heal the people in our community. I told him how I’d embraced that traditional knowledge until I became a psychoanalyst. But then felt that these healing practices had no place in my psychological world. I had rejected the soul in favor of pure intellect.

The excellent masseur offered to talk with me further over lunch. There I discovered that he was a meditation teacher at Siddha Yoga ashram. The way he explained consciousness and spirituality was so highly intellectual that my trained mind could accept it. By expanding my acceptance of his teachings, I could incorporate what he said about spirit into my psychoanalytic concept of the unconscious.

I was lucky that the psychological training I’d received in Argentina was based on the teachings of Jacques Lacan. A French therapist who re-interpreted Freud’s teachings. He claimed that the translation of Freudian thought from German to English had misinterpreted the word, Geist, to mean ‘mind,’ when Freud really meant ‘spirit.’

I began to go to the ashram with the masseur to meditate to lessen the stress of my job.

A Journey Begins

One night we went to a lecture and meditation event at the ashram that began my journey to this work.

As soon as I started to meditate that night, my mind went to a sandy beach where an ancient Master was sitting in meditation. He began to talk to me. I felt that I was in a place some people describe as heaven.

Afterward, I told the masseur about my experience. He was blown away and said that this is what people try to experience through years of meditation. He arrived at my doorstep the next day with a pile of books about yogis, meditation, and spiritual teachings.

loved meditating! It helped me immensely in my very stressful job and finally calmed me to sleep well at night.

With much love and blessings,
~ Maria