HOW I SERENDIPITOUSLY GOT INTO THE LAW OF ATTRACTION
Penny Cohen, LCSW
Last week I mentioned my spontaneous spiritual experience (Blog 1) which was similar to a Near Death Experience of feeling a radiant light surround and embrace me and a love and warmth enter into me. It was the feeling of unconditional love – love without having someone to love and the essence of being surrounded and comforted by something greater than myself – something breathing me and even loving me. Along with it came an insight that I would write at least two books and do research. On what I had no idea. Needing to find out what I may have done to elicit it, what it meant and how you can reach higher consciousness in a healthy way I began questioning and researching. From thereon, I was guided to find my purpose – or the more contemporary phrase is I got into the law of attraction. It all happened serendipitously.
I kept rereading my journal and became interested in Transactional Analysis, Parapsychology, Buddhism, Shamanism, and then finally Kabbalah.
Kabbalah came by accident. I just happened to pick up a brochure from Wainwright House, a New Age Institute in Rye, NY, describing a workshop on Kabbalah. I signed up for it. As I walked into the room I spotted the diagram of the Tree Of Life hanging on the wall. At first sight of the map my body began to tingle with the soft pins and needles like I had during the mystical experience. It seemed like I knew it all but I didn’t know what I knew. By the end of the evening I learned this diagram is a blueprint of creation and also a map of existence. From a macro perspective it is a Guiding Organizing Design of the creative life forces and flows of energies that everything organizes itself around. Being universal, it corresponds with all the other traditions I studied including the seven sacraments of Christianity, the Chakra system of eastern philosophies, Erickson’s stages of development. You can even map the hierarchy of government or business organization. From a micro or personal perspective this map represents our relationship to these creative life forces, the journey of the soul and a means of reaching higher consciousness, opening to infinite unconditional love and finding purpose. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. At the end of the evening the instructor announced that he was giving a six-day workshop the following week and I just “happened” to be on vacation with no plans so I registered for it.
During the week there were many discussions of oneness, cause and effect, life, death, reincarnation, the soul’s journey, and mystical experiences. Many of my questions were resolved. The answer to the final question on the systematic approach to enlightenment came to me during one of the long meditations. It was a vision of the Tree of Life with a key opening the gate into the middle point of the diagram.
At the end of the week I bought several books on Kabbalah, hoping to study and learn more about the Tree of Life and how to uncover my purpose. I began meditating regularly and continued praying to find my purpose.
The following week, while teaching the second week of a twelve-week course on creativity at a local senior center, I mentioned to the participants that I had just taken a workshop on Kabbalah. They tried convincing me to teach it next. I laughed, telling them Kabbalists were traditionally male, over forty years old, married, and steeped in the study of Torah (the five books of Moses). By the end of the creativity course three months later, however, the participants were still urging me to teach Kabbalah. I acquiesced – with qualifications. I explained that I was not an authority on Kabbalah, but I’d be happy to facilitate a study group with the understanding that I was a student along with them and we would learn together. If any questions came up, we would all do the research to try to get answers. I facilitated this group for three years.
Then skimming through the newspaper one day, I noticed an advertisement for a conference on Kabbalah. While waiting to register, I ended up talking to the rabbi who had arranged the conference. I mentioned that I’d gotten into Kabbalah through the back door, first having a mystical experience and then trying to understand it. I explained that I understood the spiritual aspects and how to use the Tree of Life for a systematic approach to enlightenment, but I wasn’t very knowledgeable in traditional Jewish practice. She told me that she had the traditional knowledge, and we ended up teaching a class together for twenty-four weeks. A group of people from this class who wanted to continue studying convinced me to facilitate an ongoing group in my home. Again, I was driven to go deeper and began studying with Orthodox rabbis as well as other secular Kabbalah teachers to understand it from different perspectives. I continued praying, pleading to be shown my purpose.
Although Kabbalah was a relatively new subject for me as a teacher, I had been leading workshops for more than ten years in many different areas, including relationships, communication, stress management, creativity, and exploring the sixth sense. I decided it was time to specialize. So in 1995 I offered workshops and lectures in all my areas of expertise and resolved that the one that drew the most people would be my specialty.
Kabbalah won, with more than a hundred people attending a lecture. I began teaching workshops and study groups on Kabbalah and the Tree of Life at local colleges, synagogues, and a variety of organizations and alternative health groups.
Participants began asking to work with me privately. I was forty-eight years old and had no “official” credentials, not even a college degree! So I returned to school for both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Four years following graduation and after receiving a license in social work, I opened a private psychotherapy practice and – at international conferences, in front of professional groups and for organizations – I began offering workshops integrating spirituality and psychotherapy.
Many people who came to me for individual therapy did so after attending a workshop. Some had mystical experiences and wanted to understand them better. Others just wanted to delve more deeply into their spiritual roots to understand their relationship to the Divine and find their purpose. Still others wanted to work on developing more confidence and self-esteem or develop more fulfilling relationships. I was already using prayer and meditation techniques in my clinical work with individuals, and I began including the psychological and practical steps on the Tree of Life. Using the Tree of life diagram helped people see where they were, determine where they wanted to be, and understand the steps they needed to take to apply spirituality to daily life. And, it worked. They began having incredible transformations and they kept referring people to me.
In order to find purpose, they had to work through physical addictions and personality issues (such as doubt, fear, anxiety, regret, resentment, hurt, and vengeance), identify new values and standards, and higher morals and ethics, unleash their intellectual and creative passions, and discover ways to fulfill them. This involved both internal and external processes, including ways to meditate and pray effectively, as well as practical means to change their ways of processing thoughts, feelings, speech, and changing their behavior.
These techniques help us perceive things from a different perspective, a higher level of consciousness – from truth rather than the unconscious illusions we carry from our past (commonly known as conditioning). When we are in truth, we feel spiritually guided. Feeling spiritual guidance makes it possible to deal with painful experiences differently – without suffering – and how to learn from them.
My clients used these techniques and began reporting that they felt better, they had more energy, their relationships were more satisfying, and they’d begun to identify their passion. Working on their purpose, they reported being grounded, focused, directed, spiritually guided, and much more joyful. I kept getting more referrals.
While my practice kept expanding, I kept learning. I attended a spiritual book club that met weekly. Every so often I’d share how a concept could be interpreted kabbalistically and applied in daily life. As several of us left the meeting together one night, I was approached and asked to write a proposal for a book on Kabbalah. I wrote a sixty-page outline – for Personal Kabbalah: 32 Paths To Inner Peace And Life Purpose, which was published by Sterling Publishing, June 2005. This is how I was guided to Kabbalah, teaching, and writing a book – or more accurately how Kabbalah and this book proposal and my purpose came to me.
When I reflect on the progression of events, I realize that none of it was an accident. The meditating and praying I began doing was my way of communicating with the universe. And the universe answered me through a progression of dreams and opening paths and opportunities in all parts of my life. The challenge is to remain open to these opportunities.
The study of Kabbalah, which is the foundation of all Western religions, as well as the path Jesus studied, has afforded me tremendous growth personally and professionally. Spiritual guidance and support have helped me deal with the pain and loss of divorce without anger or vindictiveness and have even led to forgiveness – to the point where last year my ex-husband, who is the former CFO of RJR Nabisco, and I did a presentation using the Kabbalistic Tree of Life for success in business as well as in our personal lives.
Believing in an outside power of creative life force energies has given me the courage and faith to express my true self, take risks, and move into areas I would never have dared otherwise. I’ve truly become a different person – a person who lives with faith and passion, a person who feels totally guided and blessed, a person who loves life and the people in it. By transforming my life, my views, and my perception of reality, the world I live in has changed. It is different because I am different. I pray that as I recognize and embody my purpose in life, this work gives meaning, joy, and blessing to others in theirs.
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Keeping in touch and in love,