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A Soulful Awakening
One woman's extraordinary journey from life to death to a soulful awakening
By Stephanie Banks
Balboa PressCopyright © 2014 Stephanie Banks
All rights reserved.
The Bike Crash
* * *
"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door."
Living an active outdoor life in British Columbia, Canada, at times brings with it certain consequences. For me, the consequences were a mountain-biking accident, which has brought this book to you.
Every August, Whistler, BC, Canada, is host to Crankworx weekend, where serious mountain bikers gather to test their courage, determination, and skill as they soar through the air and ride down the treacherous terrain that only expert mountain bikers dare to venture.
Neither my partner, Steve, nor I are hard-core downhill bikers, but we have ridden our share of cross-country trails with our son, Dawson. We decided as a family to take a three-day vacation to Whistler to test our own skill and partake in the Crankworx events from the perspective of spectators.
Our weekend began with following a trail map to a few entry-level cross-country loops that we all enjoyed, yet felt that we could handle a little more of a challenge. Day two consisted of biking more intermediate technical trails and watching the world-class mountain bikers "huck their meat," as they say, over gigantic jumps created for this event. The plan for our last day was to tackle the ski hill on our bikes. As avid snowboarders, we are accustomed to ascending mountains on a chairlift or gondola and descending with snow beneath our boards, but we were not so accustomed to riding down a mountain on a bike. I was excited yet tentative at the same time.
On day three, the village of Whistler was swarming with people and pedals as we rolled our bikes toward the chairlift. Our bodies were shackled in safety gear, including full-face helmets. I had purchased mine on day one after following a step-by-step instructional guide to properly fitting and buying a mountain bike helmet. I had synchronistically found the how-to article in a magazine that I had purchased on a hunch at a gas station en route.
We loaded the chair along with our bikes that hung precariously on the outside. We started with a beginner run, but we all agreed to bump it up a notch and go to the next level. After successfully completing our first intermediate run, we were pumped with energy and adrenaline. As we rode the chair for the third time, we discussed the previous trail. We decided that we were all capable of managing ourselves skillfully on that particular run. The boys had discovered a jump they wanted to try, so we opted to do it again. We decided that when we got to the jump section, I would ride down first, bypass the jumps, stop at the bottom, and take pictures of Steve and Dawson jumping.
Once we arrived at this section, we waited for a few minutes, as there was a constant stream of riders. The blue run that we were riding intersected with a double-black diamond, an advanced run. From there, there were a series of jumps to choose from before continuing down the chosen trail.
For those of us who prefer to keep our feet and our wheels firmly planted on the ground, there was an alternate route around the jumps. This was where I had planned to go; however, something came over me at the last second, and I diverted from the alternate route, assuming that I could simply roll over one of the jumps without leaving the ground. I assumed that the jump I hastily decided to roll over was a tabletop, meaning that the launchpad and the transitioned landing were connected. But I failed to realize that there was an eight-foot gap between them with a rock gully beneath.
As I gained speed heading toward the jump, I briefly thought about stopping on the top to take a picture. But by the time I realized I wouldn't be stopping on the top because the top didn't exist, I felt my body and bike lift effortlessly from the ground and soar toward the rock face that lay in my path. I had almost gained enough momentum for my front tire to grab the top of the other side, but instead, my bike smashed forcefully into the rock wall, slamming my wrists into my handlebars while my full-face helmet bounced off the rock face.
I later learned that I had died upon impact. My heart stopped briefly as trauma built up and created blockages. But as quickly as my heart had stopped, it resumed again as my soul made the final decision to return to my life on earth—but with a renewed sense of self. I chose to hold conscious thought and intent in my heart in such a way that it would drive my existence here on earth. I returned to my body as though my death did not occur, as I did not have any recollection of the experience.
When I collided with the rock wall, my eyes must have been wide-open, because I remember the beautiful lines that ran through the rock as I witnessed them up close. I felt my right pedal insert itself into my shin in the small gap between my pads, but oddly, I didn't feel any pain. As I fell backward into the crevasse below with my bike landing on top of me, I knew I was hurt.
During those few, brief moments when I smashed into the rock face and lay in a heap in the gully, I experienced no pain of any kind. It was as though someone had absorbed the pain for me, at least for a short time. That enabled me to see myself from a different perspective. I felt as though my body was separate from my core, as I knew I had made an error in judgment that would have repercussions.
As I lay on my back on the rocks in the gully, I saw another biker fly over me, unaware of my broken body below. Steve and Dawson, with the assistance of a kind German fellow who had witnessed the crash, diverted traffic from the gully section and made their way down the hill to assist me.
Patience has always been a challenge for me, so without hesitation, I began pulling my body to the top of the ledge. I vaguely recall scrambling my way out, and in hindsight, am uncertain how I managed. With the help of the boys, I found myself seated on a hillside, just off the track with my bike at my feet. I remember Steve discussing calling patrol, but I began to feel shock setting in; so without further contemplation, I hopped on my bike as though nothing had happened and proceeded to ride down the last half of the trail. Every twist, turn, root, and rock ricocheted through my body, creating excruciating pain, so I rode faster.
Steve later informed me that he had a difficult time keeping up with me as he followed my whimpers to the bottom. All I was able to focus on at the time was getting to the bottom and off my bike. It amazes me what humans are capable of accomplishing when in a state of panic or shock.
The journey seemed endless, like a dream. Finally, my eyes focused in on the village as I approached the final leg. Conveniently, there was a first-aid station at the bottom of the run that was set up for the weekend. After a brief assessment, I was shuttled to the hospital, where I emerged with a cast on each arm, whiplash, a bruised femur, numerous minor injuries, and the helmet that had saved my life.CHAPTER 2
Awakening to Our Non-physical Realm
* * *
"Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, we cannot live without a spiritual life." —Buddah
As we drove home from Whistler, my mind began racing down the track of worry and regret. I had responsibilities to my work, my son, my husband, and our small hobby farm. My brother and I were in the height of our season with multiple landscape projects on the go. As a hands-on business owner, I felt fearful of how my disabilities would impact our company.
Halfway home, I began to panic and found myself tearing at my right cast with my teeth. I had anticipated this when I sat before the doctor in the casting room at the hospital. I insisted that I would not be able to function independently with two casts, so I begged him to cut one of them open and then hold it together with a tensor bandage. The doctor reluctantly honored my wishes by choosing the wrist with the least damage and gave me strict instructions to take it easy if I chose to remove it at any time.
Steve stopped the vehicle and gently removed the cast from my right arm. He was much more successful than my teeth had been. With my right arm sore but free, I felt a moment of hope, and my horizons expanded as I held onto that feeling. I was thankful to be right-handed and would at least be able to brush my teeth, possibly drive an automatic work truck, and write.
The next two months of rehab were long and difficult, but I managed to deal with the pain without the assistance of medication and was faced with reestablishing a relationship with patience. I am an active, busy, independent fire sign who had yet to learn the art of sitting still. I believed that a successful person was a busy person.
The first two weeks were especially trying, as my family insisted that I stay home and recover. Although my right hand was free to move, I still had ample pain elsewhere in my body and felt imprisoned by my own physical restrictions. We live on a small farm away from anyone or anything, so I struggled with what to do with my time. I paced around the house and back and forth across our deck, grimacing in pain while fighting agitation and boredom. I tried reading, but my attention was short, as my mind would take over, opening the gates to anger and anguish. I would begin to pace once again. I quickly discovered that pacing back and forth across my deck did not contribute in a constructive manner to my mental or physical well-being.
Throughout my life, I have gone through periods when writing brought me solitude and peace. On one of my countless trips across my deck, I remembered this tried-and-true pastime. As though in a panic, I rummaged through my dresser looking for an empty journal I had purchased a few years prior at a fundraiser at my son's school. Within minutes, I had that hot little commodity in my fractured hand and found myself cozy in my chair on our deck overlooking the pristine landscape in front of me. I sat in quiet contemplation, relaxing simply by feeling the journal and pen in my lap.
As I asked myself what I would write about, I felt my pen scribbling across the back page of my empty journal. I wrote without hesitation or thought as I transferred words that seemed to be coming to me in the same manner. Halfway through the ninth page, the words came to a subtle end, and I saw my mother's name as though it was a letter. As I stared at her name in the middle of the page, my eyes scanned the previous pages, and I quickly recognized the printing to be practically identical to that of my mother who had passed away sixteen years earlier. Although it was I who had been doing the writing it seemed clear that the words had come from her from another realm and as they did, so did her style of penmanship. I felt goose bumps all over as I flipped back to the beginning and began to read what I had just written. As I had been writing, I had been unaware of what had been transpiring on the pages. As I read the letter that was addressed to me, I was amazed and astonished.
I didn't share this with anyone other than Steve and Dawson, for many months. I did, however, wake up every morning with a refreshed sense of purpose and a renewed sense of passion for writing. Writing became my painkiller and companion.
I awoke the next morning excited and enthusiastic to spend the day at home with my journal. I could not wait to write and see who came my way. I retraced my steps from the day before by sitting comfortably in my eagle's nest while listening to calming music. This time, I began the ritual of asking, in writing, for guidance and inviting anyone who was listening to share a message with me. To this day, I have always received a message from at least one of many guides, as long as I am sitting peacefully and simply ask. I always express my gratitude.
When I decide to channel in this manner, I begin by simply saying hello, offering gratitude, and asking a question. Words begin to fill the pages, and as they do, I am fully aware of my surroundings but completely engaged in the task at hand. I write without contemplation or hesitation until the message is complete and signed by the guide. I then close my journal and change my activity.
When and where I decide to read the latest message depends on the circumstance. If the message is directed to me, I usually read it within an hour. If the message is meant for someone else, I wait until I am able to read it to that individual. When this happens, I often feel waves of energy as I am sharing the message and break into a sweat. The messages are always positive and full of love; therefore, I am often unable to hold back tears as the energy engulfs me as I read.
Ustro introduced himself to me as one of my non-physical guides on day two. He mentioned that we knew each other here on earth, but he fell and died and was now here to assist me. He talked about the spiritual awakening that we are going through as a planet on a collective level. This was news to me at the time, but now, a year and a half later, that concept directs my life force.
Ustro became an integral part of my life until August 2013 when he moved on. Before he departed to aid another soul who was just beginning to awaken spiritually, he kindly introduced me to my new guide, Sal, but I was childish and didn't accept him until many months after Ustro left. I was shocked at how solemn I felt knowing that Ustro and I were parting ways.
The other guides, teachers, and protectors have come to me through various messages at various times. Some guides stand close to me, like ustro and sal, while others are more closely associated with other people who requested personal messages. Then a few, such as Ruby, Solomon, and Raphael, appear to be guardians on a much larger scope, encompassing many souls. It is my understanding that we are guided by many, each delivering their own insight in their own manner. For instance, Raphael introduced himself as a healer when called upon. He assists in the removal of toxicity from the human body by use of electromagnetic energy. We all have specific guides and teachers, yet there are no limitations to whom we may call upon. I have adopted the policy of accepting wisdom from whomever may deliver a response to my questions, as so far, all the information that has been shared has been beneficial and transformative. Again, I emphasize the importance of the message itself as opposed to where or from whom the message is coming.
When we allow ourselves to tune into the frequency of the nonphysical realm and begin reestablishing relationships with our guides or the guides of others, our worlds expand tremendously. There is an astronomical amount of wisdom at our disposal at any given time; all we need is a little peace and quiet and an open heart and mind. You don't necessarily need to crash into a rock wall to hear your call from home. I took one for the team, so please spare yourself and enjoy this book as my gift to you.
There are many different voices contributing their messages throughout the book—each exhibiting their own unique spice and flare. For example, Sherman H. Harlow is eloquent and elegant as he delivers his teachings, while Ruby and Solomon are more straight and to the point. Ustro was gentle in his approach, as I was a newbie to the non-physical realm, while Sal is much more direct as he encourages my growth and the growth of others.
As time went on and I remained diligent in my practice of receiving the messages, they became more clear and fluid. Each guide has his or her own style of handwriting or printing. Some are smooth and flowing, while others are more difficult to read. The first message I received from my grandfather Harold, I recognized his handwriting from when he was alive. Each guide has their own; they are individual while existing in unison wholly and completely. The following messages are the first two I received as my door to connection opened.
Linda (my mom):
I love you. You are okay. Live and let live. More to life and more to live for. I am always close by—we all are. You are on your way. I will help you and your family and all the others. I am here always like a fine film of dust sprinkled on your skin. I watch and wait for the time to be right, as it is now. You see, you are my angel as well.
Live with the truth in your heart, and you will always have what you need. You have it in front of you every day. Don't be discouraged, as it is easy to be at times. Let us guide you; trust in the universe, and you will be free. I am free and here—present. Your heart has been blocked, and now the key has been turned. Feel us, dear. We are here with you always. We guide you and try to help you along the way.
Trust in yourself, those you love, the sun and sky, and me. Ustro is here watching and listening and seeing. He will be here for a while but not forever. You knew him once before in a class. He died, and he now travels with you.
The door is now open. There is so much more to see, my love. You are so dear to me. It hurts you, I can see. But be strong, open your passageways, trust and be trusted, understand, be compassionate, try not to be sad or angry. Bring the happiness to others that you know you can and be proud of who you are and are becoming.
Excerpted from A Soulful Awakening by Stephanie Banks. Copyright © 2014 Stephanie Banks. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsLetter to the Reader, ix,
Chapter 1: The Bike Crash, 1,
Chapter 2: Awakening to Our Non-physical Realm, 6,
Chapter 3: Brushing Cheek-to-Cheek with Death, 16,
Chapter 4: The Magic of Synchronicities, 27,
Chapter 5: Life at Grenville, 37,
Chapter 6: The Beginning of the End, 44,
Chapter 7: Hello and Good-bye, 56,
Chapter 8: Denial and Acceptance, 62,
Chapter 9: Bonnie's Story, 82,
Chapter 10: The Evangelist, 89,
Chapter 11: We Are All One, 98,
Chapter 12: Times Are Changing, 106,
Affirmations and Poems, 119,
Channeled Definitions, 125,
About the Author, 131,