My History and Journey to Awareness

My first venture into the world of meditation and consciousness came in an innocent and certainly unintended way. Following a difficult divorce, therapy, immersion in religion – I decided to take a class in Self-Hypnosis offered at Unity Church in San Luis Obispo – taught by Dr. Michael Emmons. I had no way of knowing that Michael was a gifted therapist, taught in the Psychology Dept. at Cal Poly, was the co-author of the first book of assertiveness training: Your Perfect Right, and also was one of the co-founders of the spiritual centers in San Luis Opispo, The Mustard Seed Foundation – now called the Center For Creative Expression.

Michael’s beginning training consisted of having the group focus their complete attention on an object – at that time, any object. During the stress of divorce since I was having trouble sleeping, I was able to practice this art at very important times – and felt the benefit of feeling at least a bit more quiet.

I always find that one experience leads to many paths that I hadn’t considered, and this choice certainly did. Through a friend I became connected to The Mustard Seed Foundation in San Luis Obispo, California, in the early 1980’s where the emphasis of the training was to focus on the heart center. Gifted teachers taught classes for many of us who became a collective of individuals who were exploring spirituality in many each for our own unique reason. I think of that period of my life and those individuals at the time, place and the people with whom I grew up spiritually.

By 1986 even through I had read everything I could find my hands on to read, gone to every class I could find to take from a wide array of talented and dedicated teachers, explored spirituality and metaphysical information as deeply as I could at the time, I realized that I felt that I could not fully surrender fully in meditation.

One of my fellow seekers at that time brought a gifted teacher, Conrad Satala M.A, from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, to the San Luis Obispo area periodically. He was not only a clinical psychologist, but also more knowlegable about the human energy system than anyone that I had worked with to that point in my life.

The connection with Conrad came at a critical transformational time in my life – for the teacher always appears when the student is ready. Due to a carbon monoxide leak in my classroom in a relatively new school where I had been teaching for 8 years, I had vocal cord damage and was forced to go on leave of absence from teaching for 5 months as a Workers Comp mandate.

Being a professional singer, choral director, and music specialist for many years – my career and sense of identity having totally depended on my voice for my entire life, this was indeed a time of crisis. At that time I was perfectly happy with my goal of being able to speak clearly – let alone sing professionally ever again.

Conrad saw more possibility than I even dared dream at that point. He worked with the focus of meditation, energetic explorations, life being focused from the heart center – and his philosophy I found was that healing is a natural a result of one being vitally committed to one’s own creative process. Of course, I’ve oversimplified and capsulized a lifetime philosophy, but for the sake of the description of my own creative journey, I’ll leave the description overly brief.

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Silence Births Incredible Sound

I found in my exploration of centering at the heart level new levels of silence than I had never known. I found new awareness, endless inner spaces, and always options. When “my heart was NOT open,” I could see or feel no options, I felt stuck, …. etc., and the quality life just didn’t feel the same. I certainly learned and experienced constant awareness about all of the other energy centers, etc., but in opening the heart and allowing my own creative process to open, I felt able to risk feeling true passion — which became my pathway of creating a new life.

I found that daring to spend the time in the inner spaces was more effective than any experience I had ever known. It felt like a rich soufle in the making – the more time I spent in the spaces and the more I could allow my body to connect with these new and more expansive feelings, the more I could allow of my life’s possibilities, and my feelings about life to unfold, change and expand right in front of my eyes. I could more easily move through changes which would occur – that were often difficul,t and at one time would have stopped me in my tracks. The more I surrendered to the inner work, the more I could feel my passion for life return, and certainly my sense of purpose.

For three years I traveled to Los Angeles where I worked with a marvelous speech therapist, Dr. Al Lavorato, and after five months of not being allowed to sing began my singing training with Nate Lam, Cantor of Steven S. Wise Temple in Los Angeles. As I drove the 200 miles in one day – usually once a week – I always knew that whoever drove to Los Angeles was not the same person who returned home. I loved singing again, I thrived and felt a sense of passion and purpose that I had never felt in all my life. For when my singing was taken away was when I found out how truly important it was to me. It was one of the most important transformations in all of my life. I think of it as an adjustment in my life’s course!

For those three years while I returned to the classroom in San Luis Obispo, I continued deep inner exploration of spiritual/creative principles. I also traveled once a week to Los Angeles to work on my voice with these highly skilled teachers each a revered expert in their field. After three years I was led to move to Los Angeles where I continued my intense quest of my inner journey working still working with Conrad as well as another beloved teacher, Carolyn Conger, who just happened to move to Santa Monica at the same time asI did!

I apprenticed with Nate Lam sitting hours a day with him in his studio as he taught voice lessons to all levels and styles of singers – a gift for which I will always be eternally grateful. While Nate an I are both classical singers, I was able to experience the depth of classical technique used as the foundation for all styles of singing. I continued to study voice with Nate for over 11 years as well as coached with my dear friend, Sara McFerrin. After living in Los Angeles for a year it became clear to me that I would not return to the incredibly beautiful community of San Luis Obispo – (where everyone from LA was moving!), but would instead resign my teaching position after 25 years in the classroom and open a private voice studio in Santa Monica where I continue to teach until this day.

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