A Heart Wide Open

2016-05-19 15.57.01

My spiritual journey… where to start…? I am tempted to start with the beginning, but what beginning? If this is about the soul’s journey then I have no idea when it started, right? Well, to simplify things a bit I will start with the first memories I have of spirituality in this life. I must have around 3-4 years old, I was very well aware of the “otherworld” the place beyond what we could see with our eyes, but very much within reach of a child’s vivid imagination. What I sensed in this world as a toddler was the world of the fairies, the elves, the forest people. I played with them, talked to them, and befriended them. I cannot remember seeing them, other than with my inner eye, only with one exception, but even that has become a little blurry with age.

I was about 6 years old when I first learned about God and religion. I am brought up in a strongly atheist family where religion was quite ridiculed as being something weak people uses as comfort. The world was what it was, nothing more nothing less. My father taught my about philosophy and science, but not religion. But when I was 6 I met a girl whom I befriended, she was 2 years older than me, and had, despite her own atheist family, converted to Christianity. We called ourselves “Secret Christians” and we had meetings on top of the freezer in my parents’ basement. We had a little paper chocolate box with nostalgic pictures of Jesus and the Angels. I loved those pictures so much, perhaps even more than the actual Jesus. I cannot remember even knowing anything about Jesus, I just loved the idea of another world, an invisible world of softness and comfort and warmth. It was completely magical to me.

When I was 8 we started learning about Christianity in school, but my parents, being atheist, decided to take me out of those classes and put me in an alternative class where we learned about philosophy. That class made all the difference in the world to my spiritual development, because in addition to philosophy we also learned about Eastern religion and thinking. I became interested in Buddhism and Hinduism, and read everything I could get a hold of about those religions. That same year, when I was 8, I befriended a Vietnamese boy who had just come from Vietnam to Norway, he and his entire family were Buddhists. I visited there often, and that boy became my best friend. I met him once later in life as well, at that time he insisted that I was a Bodhisattva, something which I of course declined.

When I was 14 years old, I called myself a Hindu. I wore bindhis in my forehead and knew everything about the chakras, reincarnation and karma. I had also developed a strong social conscience. I had always wanted to help people. When I was 8 I wrote a poem about street children which was published in a local newspaper, and when I was 10 I became pen pals with a Croatian girl who lived in poverty and war. I sent her all my dolls and candy and clothes. But when I was 14 I started considering helping people as a “career”. I dreamt of going to India and working with poor children there. I was too young to go, so I started sponsoring two children living in the slums in India. My parents did not know anything about it, so I had to ask the NGO if I was allowed to sponsor a child at 14. I earned money from babysitting so that was not a problem. The NGO said yes, so I started paying for schooling and food and clothes for those two children. Later I also started sponsoring a homeless dog living in a shelter. I had been vegetarian since I was 11 because I loved animals so much and could not think of them as food. I have never been the kind of person who cuddle and talk baby talk to animals, but I have always had a deep respect for them. I had been around horses since I was 8 and I felt that we were equals. I did not feel more than them in any way. The same year, when I was 14, I started taking meditation classes. It was me and a bunch of 40 year olds, but I didn’t mind that, I never cared about age, I saw souls, not aging people. That meditation class taught me to meditate, inspired me to think new thoughts about spirituality, and let me meet other people who were more like me. Up till then I had never met another spiritual person in my life. I became quite popular in that class, being the “baby girl”, and I made lots of friends, even the teacher teaching the class gave me special attention. I also had my first spiritual experienced in this class. I remember one meditation where we were guided to see ourselves in a previous life. That was a very profound meditation. I saw myself running for my life in a field in a hot country, covering my ears from gunshots in another country, and lastly living by the sea in a little hut writing. I remember seeing myself in the mirror in one of the meditations and seeing another face not my own, that scared me a little. In another meditation I became an eagle flying above mountains, and I kept hearing the words “Fly on the wings of Love” repeated in my mind. I also learned to chant mantras, and I experience my first spiritual trance. By the end of the year, when the class was over the teacher did our horoscopes, and when he did mine, he looked at me wistfully and said: “You are truly gifted, you can go to the very heart of the knowledge, I have not seen this extraordinary horoscope in a long time. “ It scared me little I remember. Before we said goodbye the teacher gave me his mala, a Hindu rosary, he took it off his own neck and gave it to me. After that class I needed some grounding. In those days I found spirituality to be a little scary, I had no idea what it was or what I was doing. I was afraid of my own “power” in a way. But I kept at it.

The summer I was 15 was a magical summer. I read James Redfield’s book “The Ninth insight”, and my world changed. All of a sudden it was filled with magic. Everything was a sign, a clue, a white stone that would lead me somewhere. I followed the clues, one by one. It lead me to a meeting with a Buddhist group where I spent some time meditating. It was also the summer I met a deer, a strange and mysterious encounter in the depth of the forest. I was filled with fun-loving that summer and went to a concert in another city with a friend. I liked the band, but it was a street musician that caught my interest. His name was Chris and he was half Indian half Native American. He told me he was an orphan adopted by Norwegian parents from a South American orphanage. He was deeply spiritual and sang songs about spirituality and life. We ended up talking the whole night. When I came home I received a letter from someone named Chris, but it was not him. It was an American prisoner writing from a prison in US. I have no idea how he got me address. We exchanged a few letters and I ended up receiving a letter and a book from Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson.

When I was 16 I could finally go abroad, something I had dreamed of for a very long time. I went to Ireland to study English. I loved Ireland, especially a little island called Inish Moor where I wrote in the sand on a tiny beach “I’ll be back.” I also started learning qi gong that year, a Chinese meditative dance of movements, it was not really for me, but I met many lovely people and learned new things about myself.

The year I turned 17 I finally got my big chance to go to India. The NGO I had been supporting for a while was arranging a trip for sponsors to meet their sponsored children. I signed up right away. I talked to my principal at school and got it approved as a study trip. That trip surely changed my life. It was the journey of my dreams. Finally I got to see all that which I had dreamed of for such a long time, I could meet the people, see the temples, admire the colors, and of course get to know the children I had been sponsoring for two years. They were little angles and they called me big sister. I will never forget eating home cooked food on the floor of my little sister’s mud hut far away in the Indian country side, or holding my little brother’s hand as he chose new shoes as a gift from me. I was enchanted. And India became my second home land. I celebrated my 18th Birthday on a camel in the Rajasthani desert followed by an elephant ride up to the Maharaja’s castle. Was I living in a story book? After that trip I would be going back to India once a year for many years to come.

Arriving back in Norway things changed. I could not go to parties anymore, I did not enjoy shopping or anything else my peers were doing, I found solace in art, and decided to major in fine art and take night classes in art. It gave me a channel to express my emotions and my frustrations for a over-materialized culture. I became more different. I wore different clothes. I could only think about all the poverty and horrors of the world. I had seen a lot for a girl of 18. So I signed up for a creative course for teenagers on a small island on the coast of south-Norway. I met other artists and writers and had my first poetry exhibition in a tiny weather-beaten hut on the cliffs by the sea. It was storming outside and raining heavily, and people read my poems lit up by small lanterns. It was magical.

The year I was 19 I made a big decision, I decided to go back to India to work as volunteer social worker for 6 months after High School. I still took time to help collect clothes for street children in Romania, and that Christmas I spent in Romania giving food and clothes to the street children living in the sewers under the ground. I will never forget it. I wrote a newspaper article about it and was interviewed by several newspapers. By now, everyone in my local city knew me.

It was now time for me to go to India. The big trip. The life-changing journey. But I was ready. I stayed for the first three months in a convent in a city working mostly with children in the slum. I even created my own program for kids with alcoholic and violent fathers. It felt so good to do something. The remaining three months were spent with an Indian family in the countryside of India. They adopted me as their daughter, and all of a sudden I had several Indian brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles. Here I mostly worked with people in tribal villages, I learned a lot about life. I also learned a lot more about Hinduism. The family I stayed with was very religious and the mother of the house used to take me to the Goddess temple every day teaching me how to pray and how to do the different rituals. She also had a Guru, a spiritual teacher, and she took me to see him. He was an elderly man who talked in riddles. I was instantly afraid of him. He wanted to be treated like a saint, a holy man, and he told me I could become greater than him but I had to become his student. I was too scared and did not feel like seeing him again. A couple of days later I had my first out-of-body experience. I drifted into space, but I thought I was going to die so I stopped the trance before I could drift further.

When I came home from my stay in India I was changed. I had seen a lot, and much of it was hard to cope with. The coming year was the most difficult year of my life. I had no energy to do art, no writing, no creating. I moved away for university and was lonely and sad a lot. I could not participate in anything fun. I was processing all the pain I had seen in India, but not in a good way. I also lost my grandfather and my grandmother that year, and my other grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, and my mother had to undergo surgery. After that year was over I had to do something. I decided to go abroad, this time to Ecuador to study Spanish. On my way to Ecuador I visited my friend who was studying acting in New York. I loved New York! I loved the creative and artistic vibe of the city, and slowly I started smiling again and feeling creative. My trip to Ecuador became a healing journey. I met so many beautiful people, sharing truths and love with me. I got a new perspective on Christianity, as the catholic churches in Quito practiced Christianity in a very different way than the pietistic Norway. Here the focus was on Love and compassion, not sin. I remember one service I went to, the priest talked about the world as a brother-and-sisterhood of human beings and he had the whole congregation hugging each other telling each other how much we loved one another. It was beautiful. I also met an angel in Quito, and earth angel, and he taught me a lot about strength.

After that trip I felt better. I went on to study religion at university, and met a teacher who taught me about inner beauty, and the beauty of spirit our scars create. I went on a study trip to Egypt and it was again a healing journey. I started to create again, to write, and I signed up for a poetry workshop in Ireland on the island I had fallen in love with at 15: Inish Mor. It was like magic being back there. That island healed me and restored me and let me find my way back to myself. It is magical island. I met a lady, Pam, an Australian Astrologer who was healing from a broken abusive marriage. I also met Sarah, a girl who was also healing from a relationship of physical violence. Sarah taught me about gemstones and their healing power. She gave me an amethyst. The result of the workshop was a tiny volume of poems titled Wind Songs. Sarah, Pam and I had become good friends, and we also met a street artist, an African drummer, who lived in a hundred year old cottage by the sea near a seal cove. I befriended him, and he told me I could come back and rent the cottage for a silent writing retreat. That excited me a lot and I decided to do that.

Back in Norway I made the decision to change my college. I joined a missionary college, not to become a missionary, but to study multiculturalism and social anthropology. I loved the school with all my heart and soul. I had finally found a place where I could make friends without having to party or consume volumes of alcohol. I also started teaching a youth group for teenage girls with eating disorders. It is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I found out that I could help others without sacrificing my own happiness in the process. I also found a cottage on an island close to where I lived where I could go for my own little personal poetry retreats. It was an old cottage without water or electricity and it was right next to the mighty sea, surrounded by fields of Christmas trees. Every night I was visited by herds of deer. My trips to that island resulted in a poetry exhibition about angels that I had in a small local coffee shop around Christmas. I felt so alive and so happy.

At 23 I was finished with my college studies. I needed to travel again. I planned a three months trip to Europe. I had no plans, only that I would start out by visiting Pam, the Australian Astrologer who had now divorced her husband, and at 60 years old, moved to Ireland, become an Irish citizen and started a college course in Archeology. She lived in the courtyard of an old Irish castle and she welcomed me with open arms. The two weeks with Pam was spent meditating, chanting mantras to help with her healing, learning about astrology and different old European Goddesses. Pam was communicating with angels and she taught me a lot about how to feel them. At this point my meditations were mostly centered around Love as a healing force, both for myself and others. I helped Pam heal by chanting mantras for her every day. She said my presence filled the house with peace and Love. The animals must have felt it too for every night herds of deer came to seek shelter in the garden surrounding the house. Pam said that had never happened before.

After my visit with Pam I went to Inish Mor to stay in the hundred year old cottage by the sea. I spent my time writing, walking, getting to know the islanders and singing. After a couple of weeks I had a poetry exhibition ready. I moved to Galway the nearby city and there I found a Spirit center where they wanted to exhibit my poems. My poems were called Nine Nights of Purnima and was a collection of Goddess poems. The exhibition was beautiful. The poems were on the wall, and a sitar player was playing beautiful Indian music. After my exhibition I joined the meditation group in the center. I made new friends. I had been living with a bunch of street artist, but I was not comfortable there due to their excessive smoking of drugs. One of the ladies in the meditation group invited me to come and stay with her in her little house by the sea. I happily accepted the invitation. The house was a small and cozy place where I could fall asleep to the sound of the sea and the waves crashing on the pebble beach. We collected drift wood for heat and used candles as light. The lady was a musician and I spent my days listening to her singing and playing piano. Next to her house there was a Fairy Forest and I spent many days there wandering around hugging trees. One of the neighboring houses was a beautiful purple house with a garden filled with occult and astrological symbols. I decided to find out who was living there, so one day I mustered my courage and knocked the door. An elderly lady opened. She was completely dressed in purple and her name was Pearl. She reluctantly invited me in. Her whole house was purple and filled with occult art. She told me she was a professional astrologer, and offered to do my horoscope for me. I didn’t say no, but was also not too excited. But I let her do it. When she saw my chart she smiled and started laughing, she said it was the most profound chart she had seen, that I was gifted and that if I studied astrology I would become a master at it. She gave me an address to an astrologer in Copenhagen, Denmark and told me to go visit him. I decided to follow this lead. But before Copenhagen I stopped by Holland to visit a friend there. I had 10 days in the city of Deventer in Holland where I studied street art and went to old book shops. A friend I had met in Quito while studying Spanish had invited me to come and stay with her in Copenhagen, so I left Holland and met her on the train station in Copenhagen. She was delighted to have me, and together we spent hours talking about travelling and culture. Next day I went to the Astrologer’s house to meet him. He was a young newly married man, half Danish, half Kenyan, his wife was from the Eastern Europe, she was an astrologer too. This teacher again did my horoscope and I got the same reactions as before. He told me I was spiritually gifted. By now, I felt this more as something to dread than to celebrate. He told me I should start studying Astrology, he gave me a mantra to recite and told me to be aware of wandering spirits that might be attracted to my energy, he also told me not to study with male gurus and gave me his wife was a teacher. I stayed with them a couple of days learning and studying. But I did not find it to my taste. I have never liked rules, to study something that is already there, I am not a good student, I want to explore, find out new things, not learn things someone else has found out before me. I did not like having a teacher, I have never liked preaching or learning by heart, I felt there was no mystery to this, no excitement. So I left astrology and decided to head back home.

Back in Norway I was not sure what to do next so I applied for a job in a school. I got it and started working with children with learning disabilities. I used creative thinking, artistic expression, imagination and dramatization to teach the kids, and it was a big success. I had done this before in India so it was not new to me. I became popular at the school, and the school psychologist wanted me to stay on, but I had to move onwards. I started working as a leader for group of kids with social and mental challenges. In this group we used art to connect with the kids and help them cope with their challenges. I loved it. I started studying, on my own, art therapy. I also started teaching comparative religion to older kids, as well as work in an asylum center teaching arts and crafts to the children there. I met another artist, she was studying astrology too, she encouraged me to apply for an Art academy, but I knew I was not good enough in painting and drawing, art was in my soul in the form of shapes, colors, ideas, movement, emotions, not in lines and mirror reflections. I was not feeling comfortable in Norway, I felt far away from my soul, I felt I always had to hide my soul away, I could not let it shine, people were too practical, narrow-minded and down-to-earth, they could not deal with my spirituality. It hurt to have to tuck away my soul like that. So I needed to move.

I decided at 24 years old to move to India. It was impulsive, perhaps not very practical or thought through, and my parents surely let me know that, but I needed to feel my soul again, so I sold all my things and moved. One of the reasons why I moved to India was to meet the Dalai Lama. And I had my dream come true. I did not meet with him personally, but I attended a lecture he gave in a small lecture hall in India. It was magical and I was spirited away by his words and energy. I decided to become a freelance writer to support myself writing mostly about spirituality and India and I managed to make a living out of that. I did not need much, and India is a poor country. In India I met someone who would change me profoundly. Someone who would help me find the balance between my spirituality, my soul and my human self and my life here on earth, someone who would help me to take joy in earthly things, not just spiritual, someone who would help me find my own spiritual path not guided by others, but guided by my own soul, someone who would help me find peace with my spiritual “powers” and not look at them as a threat by letting others define them. And here I am today, living in India, the land of my soul. I am not an astrologer or great spiritual teacher, I am not a guru or saint, I am just me, but I think that is enough for now at least.
🙂 ❤ 🙂 ❤

I hope I have not bored you with my Life story. I hope it has inspired you, perhaps a little bit at least, because that is why I have shared it here. To inspire. I feel it is filled with magic and wonder, and I just had to tell you about it. The world is a magic place! I am still young and I have a lot of exploring and learning still to do. I love not knowing what will happen next or where I will end up. It increases the mystery of life, and if there is something I love it is mystery!  

120 thoughts on “A Heart Wide Open

  1. Dear Trini, kindred soul sister – this i Leelah Saachi from Norway – 76 years old – and having enjoyed your story immensely. I would love to read your autobiography – and you now doubt could flash the text out to be a full book 🙂 I am an Expressive Arts Therapist, having used my wounds – and know well about “the beauty of spirit our scars create. ” How delightful to know you!

    • Hei Leelah! Så koselig å treffe deg her! Jeg er Stavanger-jente, men bor litt her og der. Det høres skikkelig spennende ut å være “Expressive Arts Therapist”! Det må være en veldig meningsfull jobb. Så fint at du stakk innom her!

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