The writing of “Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness”
“Phenomenal cosmic powers … Itty bitty living space.” ~“Alladin”
It is human nature to ponder what happens to our souls when we die.
Whether we believe in a single and eternal afterlife; multiple reincarnations until we “get it right;” a lingering existence in layers of hell and heaven; or nothing at all; what happens to our souls when we die is a Great Question for which there may not be a Great Truth.
But at least as interesting to me is this question: Where are our souls and what do they do before we are born?
I call this time Before the Beginning.
Before the beginning
Before the Beginning, was there guidance or support was available to our souls? Did our souls know where we’d be born, and to whom? Did our souls have a singular purpose in mind, or were they more generally simply interested in the experience of being human? Most importantly, did they have any choice in the matter?
There are many afterlife theories that have us participating in a life review. During this session, likely with the guidance of a more advanced or supportive soul, we get to see our lives from the perspective of a higher realm, what I refer to as the Soul Realm.
Perhaps we also see our recent life from the perspective of karma, and gain understanding and clarity on the visible and invisible ways we touched others in our brief human life. We might gain answers to the questions How well did we receive? How abundantly did we give?
Perhaps during this life review, we get a chance to reflect on what we could have done better, and where we really shone, during our short time in human skin.
But where does this knowing and understanding take us, if not to another opportunity to put it into practice in another human life?
When I began writing my book, Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness — A Memoir of New Beginnings, I kept hovering over one central question:
Did my soul knowingly say YES to this human life?
Did my soul agree to the limited vantage point of a time-and-space trapped consciousness? Did she willingly choose the confinement of an “itty bitty living space” over the expansive cosmic powers available as a soul?
Did she know that there would be pain in the forgetting of myself as soul as I grew up? Did she know that I would always feel a little bit lost here, trying to find my way, my purpose, a meaning to this life? Did my soul know all of these possibilities and certainties, and still say YES?
A soul perspective
When I sat first down to write my book in 2014, I was coming off a time in my life that in most conversations would’ve been considered a missed opportunity at best, a failure at worst.
I was in my early 40s, still struggling to figure out my “career.” I’d taught yoga, studied and shared Ayurveda, but I still didn’t completely understand who I was and why I was here. I struggled to find meaning in my life stories, many of which didn’t make it to an ending at all, let alone a happy one.
I sought clarity, meaning, and purpose beyond what I could get through the vantage point of my ego, a linear timeline, and the lens of hindsight. I needed to see it all through my soul, a vertical, timeless timeline, and the lens of foresight.
That is how I ended up writing “Embodying Soul” with a “soul perspective.”
My vision of my time Before the Beginning, which eventually became Soul Realm stories in my book, started off simply enough: my soul, preparing for her next human life, stands on the precipice, waiting for the moment of her next incarnation to arrive.
I grew more and more curious. What else might’ve took place in this time Before the Beginning? Was it a time of healing and restoration? Was it a time of study and reflection? I wanted to find out. So, I asked my soul, a part of myself I had only recently begun to dialogue with, to show me.
Meet the characters
I began to see scenes that played out like a movie. I saw my soul, etheric and skinless, preparing herself for a trip to somewhere far away — the Earth Realm. I imagined this was an overwhelming decision.
I knew then that my soul would’ve wanted a soul friend to see her off, a soul who could double as a guide. I saw this soul guide “show up” in the scenes of my mind. I heard her tinkling laughter, and felt her unconditional love.
As my soul friend’s personality began to take form, I learned that her name was Rasa, and that she, like me, was on a path of evolution. I remembered that we have helped each other through numerous incarnations. She takes the role of soul guide seriously, yet playfully and creatively. She never tires of my many questions.
Next, I assumed if my soul were going on a trip, she would need to pack a suitcase.
What would a soul bring to the Earth Realm?
Why, soul tools, of course! The kinds of tools that can be used in the Earth Realm but originate in the Soul Realm. Tools that cut through the cloudiness and confusion of the Earth Realm and provide clarity and focus.
Next, I imagined that my soul would like an animal companion. This animal would be what some might call her power animal, or her soul animal. This animal would represent my soul’s most unique personal quality for this particular trip to the Earth Realm: curiosity.
This animal would travel with my soul to the Earth Realm, and would be the link to connect me back to the Soul Realm. My animal would be bold, courageous, and, curious. With her by my side, life would be an adventure with no rules. Without her, life would become stale and dull. Hence, the introduction of the silver-eyed wolf, Endless Curiosity, who lives and travels between the realms.
Finally, I imagined a role for my emotions, the very ones that have plagued me and yet also give me character. I decided rather than leaving them as a peripheral part, even an unfortunate part of being human, I’d bring them along for the trip, from the very beginning.
In my story, I gave my emotions voice, body, and dialogue. I gave them purpose. I gave them what writers would call an “arc,” a place of growth and enhanced relationship between them and me.
Fear, Guilt, Shame, Anxiety, Depression, Joy, Contentment, and Gratitude all take on the skin of snakes, while Anger, perhaps appropriately, is a dragon. My emotions are not part of my soul, but they are friends with my soul. They are imperfect allies and often necessary informants on the human path.
With these main characters in play in the Soul Realm, my soul explores her past lives. She meets her upcoming family. And she starts to gain a greater understanding of her purpose, her lessons, her growth opportunities.
From there, the space and time of Before the Beginning expanded. The possibilities were suddenly endless, and the story grew wings.
For instance, given that the Soul Realm is a timeless place, not a linear one, Sëri and Rasa have the opportunity to not only imagine her future life, but to witness it and talk about it in real-time. This gave me an opportunity to see many of my stories as I imagine my soul viewed them.
As this continued, the relationship between the Soul Realm and the Earth Realm, which began as two distinct places, grew closer and closer. As did my soul and I. All that was distant and disparate joined and became one, and I became, in the words of the book, embodied.
But soul embodiment is a fluid thing, not a permanent state. There are times that I feel embodied, and I feel my rich connection with soul while simultaneously connected to the surface of my human skin, my organs, my heart beating, and my feet on the ground.
There are other times that I don’t even feel like I belong in this world, or any other, and I lose the feeling of connectedness.
This is my ongoing process of being human. I don’t have all the answers.
But I do have an answer to the question that brought me all this in the first place:
“Did my soul say yes?”
Oh yes, she did. She most definitely did.
Now the question is, did yours?