We all yearn for inner peace and happiness, but for most of us, negative thoughts and disturbing events seem to make any meaningful, lasting peace unattainable.
Written in eight parts, Led by Grace leads us through a process of forgiveness that brings us to serenity. It begins with Sandra Lowe’s first meditations in the spring of 2001 and ends with her 925-kilometer pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in the fall of 2009. In the Beginning is the first book in the collection.
Sandra courageously shares her powerful story of growing to know her Self. From her first meditations, she is taken on journeys where she receives lessons and becomes witness to miracles. Sandra deepens our understanding of each meditation with an insightful interpretation and offers a means for bringing each lesson into our lives.
As we place ourselves in Sandra’s journal entries, we encounter a vulture pecking away at our legs, are taken to a City of Gold, cross bridges that light up, become naked and experience love, find the keys to our Soul, soar with eagles, paint our Self-portrait, bathe in divine waters, and walk with a monk and Jesus. The Led by Grace collection guides us to our Soul—to know It, to be It.
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Read an Excerpt
Red by Grace
In the Beginning
By Sandra M. Lowe
Balboa PressCopyright © 2013 Sandra M. Lowe
All rights reserved.
My First Steps
* * *
I have my first Reiki treatment in early April, and experience my first vision of colors. During each subsequent treatment, I have these same spontaneous experiences, and soon begin to meditate on my own at home and while hiking. I am introduced to settings, a guide, and themes that weave themselves throughout my ongoing visions. I become witness to my first miracles when aspects of my visions materialize in the outside world.
I see each of the colors of the rainbow alternating across the screen of my vision. Then I am in a bathtub and see and feel all the colors as they float down and envelop me. When I am bathed in red, I stand up, look in the mirror, and see the red of my blood flowing through my arteries.
* * *
I am in a monastery made mostly of marble. It is white and open-aired, and it has huge colonial pillars both inside and out. I am in the middle of a large group of monks. I dare to open my eyes and look around. Close by, a female monk looks directly at me and is extremely sad. When I look around the large room, a male monk among the pillars is wildly waving his arms, smiling, and welcoming me.
* * *
I am in the monastery again, and one of the monks comes to me. He is my guide. I cannot see his face, but he is rather short and wearing white. We walk from the monastery on to the surrounding grounds. The gardens around the monastery are beautiful, with very low-lying groundcover of primarily small white flowers. We walk to an ornately carved stone bench at the edge of a cliff. It is a breathtaking view with a mountain range across the valley. Then I am following my guide along the narrow trail back to the monastery.
"Why is the path only wide enough for one?" I ask.
"You need to be led. You are not ready to go beside me yet," he replies.
Back at the monastery, I hear the monks chanting. I try to relax by focusing on my left eye, and then tell myself to relax the eye. I then hear my monk, and he starts to lead me. He tells me to do the same with my left ear, and I am easily able to do it. I have trouble isolating my right eye and right ear but finally can feel them. He tells me when I am starting to focus sufficiently. We go through isolating my lips, cheeks, tongue, hands, shoulders, elbows, and feet. I suggest I try to isolate my heart, but I cannot feel it. Then my guide suggests I hold my heart. I take it out and hold it in my hands as it beats loudly.
"See what a good heart you have," he says.
* * *
I am with my monk guide on a long staircase in the middle of my brain. It is quite noisy—almost like the hold of a ship. My body feels tingly.
"Where are the lesions from my seizure?" I ask.
We go up to the spot and see just a small lesion remaining.
"Where did one of my relatives have his stroke?"
We go over and see a gaping wound.
"Where was the source of another relative's aneurysm?"
We walk down the stairs to the "basement" and see the leak.
We come back up to where we were. I can see a window overhead, but the ladder does not reach high enough to get to it.
"How do I get out?" I ask.
"Over time, the gap between the ladder and the window closes. You've already walked a few steps," my monk answers as a warm bright light shines through the window.
* * *
I see a beautiful flower, yellow in the center and pinkish red on the outside with long stamens, but I can only see it on exhalation. The flower image starts in the center of my vision, and then moves up and around in a clockwise circle to the bottom.
On my way home from hiking Nokomis, I borrow plant books to try to find the flower, but nothing resembles it. Two weeks later, I am hiking Peat Mountain, and shortly after starting out, my eye is drawn to a flower. It is the exact flower from my meditation! There are hundreds and hundreds of these flowers the entire length of the trail. I am awestruck. I pick one to bring home and identify from a reference book. But even with the flower in hand, nothing resembles it in any of the books I borrow. Finally, I decide to call a botanist. He immediately identifies it as the trout lily or alder tongue.
* * *
I cross over a bridge into a meadow. Children in long dresses and hats are playing. There is a farmhouse in the distance. When I walk through the fields, the grass springs up behind me so that my trail disappears.
Three days later, I am looking through a magazine and see a picture of this exact meadow with the children playing and a farmhouse in the distance. I am filled with awe.
I have opened the door to the world of my Self and taken my first steps inside. My first vision is with the colors of the seven chakras. At this time, I am not even aware of chakras. I bask in each color, but when I am enveloped in red, I stand up and observe my body. Red is the color of the root chakra—the chakra energy that resonates with our will to live and our connection to the group beliefs of family and community.
The monastery becomes my spiritual "home," that place I return to time and again to be grounded by its serenity. The meadow with the children and the farmhouse also will continue to be the backdrop for many of my meditations and the location for great healing to come.
What I already know of my inner turmoil and my outward presentation appears as the sad girl and the exuberant male. I was leading what seemed like a charmed life—I had success, fame, wealth, health, and four wonderful children. I was married to a good man and good father. People always said that I was born under a lucky star—and they were right. My life flowed easily. I always was in the right place at the right time, and I succeeded at pretty much anything I did. Perfect opportunities and jobs always just appeared. But as time marched on, my outside world became increasingly divergent from my inside world. Externally, all was going well, but I felt completely empty inside. Feeling good became more fleeting. I did not really know what I was feeling, and I could not verbalize my anger.
I learn to focus on isolating and then letting go of various body parts. Feeling my ears, lips, eyes, feet, and so on becomes relatively easy as the meditation continues, but when I take over and try to feel my heart, I cannot. I still need to be led; I am not ready. Only when my guide leads me can I feel my heart. This theme of having a good heart—of holding my wonderful heart in my hands—will come up many times. But it is so difficult for me to hear this. Even in the meditation, tears flow. I do not believe I have a good heart; I am not good. My monk tells me that I am good, but this is beyond me. I will continue to be told this: I need to love myself and know that I am good.
For years, I would cry as I related my visions to two of my friends. The tears were never tears of sadness; they were tears of being overwhelmed by my experiences. Even now, when I get that sense of weepiness, I know that it means I am close to the Divine within.
In February 1993, I had a nocturnal grand mal seizure, followed by a second one two months later on Good Friday (the symbolic date of the death of the ego). I thought that my life had come to an end. I saw the seizures as a weakness and was embarrassed about them. I remember a family relation telling me I needed to listen to my body. Inwardly, I was so annoyed that they would suggest that I had anything to do with my seizures, this weakness! It took me years to realize the truth of what I had been told. Our bodies are a mirror of our emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. I had imploded. I had completely shut down to the world. I was denying my life. My emotions needed to be released, noticed, given love to heal.
I am shown the physical signs of my seizures and the brain trauma in two relatives. But then I see a bright, warm light beyond this place of the body, this place of noise, confinement, and disease. I cannot yet reach it because the gap is too great. This gap closes when we take steps, when we walk with the guidance of our Higher Self.
I experience two manifestations early in my journey. With the synchronicity of seeing my flower on my hike and the exact picture of my meadow visualization, I am given evidence that I am not making this all up. I never doubt when I experience a vision or write about it afterwards, yet after the fact, I continually question whether this is all just my imagination, a fabrication. It will be many years before I truly let go of any doubt that I am receiving guidance from God.
How Do We Bring This into Our Lives?
We all have different experiences in meditation. I was fortunate to have had spontaneous visions during my first Reiki treatments, which I was able to repeat during my own meditations. More often, however, the process of reaching that place of focused attention seems more daunting. Endless lists, concerns, and distractions keep our minds busy and unfocused. There are numerous ways of maintaining focus—concentrating on breathing, gazing softly at a candle or light, chanting, focusing on individual parts of the body—while being in an environment conducive to relaxation, be that a designated area in our house or out in nature.
Wherever and however we meditate, we need to be gentle with ourselves. The harder we try to see colors and auras, experience inner peace and serenity, or hear messages, the more likely we will end up feeling disappointed, self-judgmental, and frustrated, and believing that these experiences are just not ours to have because we not spiritual enough or good enough. We need to let go of our ego expectations of what is supposed to happen. Nothing is supposed to happen. What will happen is exactly what we need at the time. Judging ourselves as ready enough or well-read enough or knowledgeable enough only leads to self-criticism and doubt. We need to relax and let be. If our minds race around with a million thoughts, we need to acknowledge that and say, "Not now, thank you. I am staying open and relaxed with no expectations." Experiencing a clear, thoughtless mind is indeed a gift.
We need to explore the "unusual" things that happen so frequently. We need to go beyond just noticing the "coincidences" to exploring their meaning. The reasons behind them may not always be apparent at the time, but at some point, they will. Experiencing these signs helps deepen the belief that we are more than just a body.
Crossing My Bridges
* * *
June 14, 2001
Yesterday, I was hiking toward an old fort on the banks of the Michipicoten River. I heard voices that sounded like boys and girls partying. I wondered why they were out of school. My dog, Nicky, did not seem to react at all. After a while, I wondered if those children were happy or in trouble. When I got to the fort, there was no one there.
About a month ago, I talked to a friend about issues I was having in my marriage. This was the first time I had ever verbalized my feelings. While it was a relief to finally give my emotions a concrete voice, it brought up the reality of how my marriage problems would affect the children. This plays a role during my Reiki treatment this morning.
I am going down a black passage. My guide tells me I don't need to hang on to the side, just walk. I start to walk.
"Now try to run," I hear.
"How can I run in the pitch black?" I ask. I try, and it gradually gets brighter until I am in the bright sunlight. "Does it ever get cloudy?" I ask.
"Yes, but total sun or clouds," he responds.
We are then in a crowded outdoor flea market with cobblestone roads. People are jostling all around us. Since I want to be somewhere quieter, we get to a field by ourselves. I see my children walking toward us over a small grassy hill. I introduce them, and one asks my guide, "Are you helping my mom?"
"Yes. Are you?"
"I'm getting better at it," they reply.
Then my children say good-bye and walk back to where they came from. I am very emotional.
I start to cry in the meditation and on the table.
My guide tells me the children will all be all right. He takes my hand.
"Why did you do that?" I ask. He has never touched me before.
"Because you need to be touched, to feel my energy."
I can feel the energy through my hand, elbow, and up to my shoulder, but I cannot feel it in the rest of my body. I calm down.
We start climbing and arrive at the pinnacle of a mountain, just big enough for the both of us to stand on. There is a beautiful view in the distance, but there is a big cavern directly in front of us. He tells me not to look down. Across the way, I notice that there are colors. My guide says for me to imagine them. I tell him that I now know the colors and what they mean.
"So spin around and see what you see."
I see blue first. I lie down, and blue "snowflakes" fall from the sky and envelop me. Then yellow, orange, and finally, red. When I am completely covered in red, I raise my hand. As before, I stand up and look in a mirror. I see all of my arteries and my heart, and I am totally red with blood inside. Then I am enveloped in purple and finally, white, where it is particularly calm. I don't want to leave. When I stand up, I am wearing a white robe—just as my guide is. I take his hand, and this time, I have no trouble feeling his energy move through my entire torso and then into my head.
I ask, "How do we get down?" I then suggest sliding down, as it would be fun.
"You don't want to go down. Why don't we take a bridge?"
I look around and can't see any bridge, just the valley below.
He steps from our pinnacle to a golden bridge, which is visible for about a meter ahead and behind him—just enough distance for me to follow. As we walk along the bridge, only a short distance ahead and behind us is visible.
We are headed toward the monastery when he asks if I want to go somewhere else.
"How?" I ask.
"Take another bridge."
We turn left, and another bridge becomes visible wherever we step. We arrive at a community. Children are laughing and playing, throwing a ball.
"Can they see me or know I'm here?" I ask.
We walk through town filled with horse-drawn carriages. One man tips his hat and smiles.
"Why did he do that?"
"Because he wanted you to know," he says, but he doesn't explain further.
"Who are they?"
"They are all dead and have chosen to come back at this time, place, and age," he explains.
We go back to the bridge.
"How did you know where the bridge was?"
"There are many bridges."
When we return to the intersection where we'd changed bridges, I see numerous bridges going in different directions, like spokes on a wheel. I had not seen this initially because my back was to the intersection.
We arrive at the monastery and see the sunset.
"Take a sunbeam and feel its warmth," he says.
A sunbeam goes through my head and down my body. It circles my organs, my heart in particular.
"Take out your heart and massage it and kiss it. Your heart is good."
I do, touching it tenderly, and then I put it back, attaching the arteries and veins with snaps like a knapsack.
Then the music gets very loud, calling us to the monastery. Again I am in the middle among many. I see the girl, and she smiles. The man at the edge waves and smiles.
This is the first appearance of dark tunnels as the starting point in my meditations. They play a large role in many of my future meditations. Making my way through a tunnel is a metaphor for moving from the fear-based ego to the love-based True Self. I do not need to hold on or be fearful—I can simply walk or run once I understand that I will be safe.
I am told that what we look at is either totally light (the Divine) or covered with clouds (the ego). Belief in the ego, the belief in separation, only obscures the Divine. The Divine does not go away or change. It just waits for the clouds to pass. Belief in Oneness is complete: you cannot believe in both the ego (that you are your body) and your Divine Self. There cannot be partial clouds.
Excerpted from Red by Grace by Sandra M. Lowe. Copyright © 2013 Sandra M. Lowe. 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
A Note to Readers.................... xiii
Map of Lake Superior Provincial Park and area.................... xvii
Led by Grace....................
In the Beginning....................
My First Steps.................... 9
Crossing My Bridges.................... 17
The Body's Flaws, The Spirit's Perfection.................... 23
A Pot of Gold.................... 29
What Looks Easy Is Not Always So.................... 37
A Stranger.................... 41
My Plans for Salvation.................... 47
Getting Naked, Experiencing Love.................... 53
My View from Three Eyes.................... 61
The City of Gold.................... 69
Never Forgotten, Just Not Remembered.................... 79
Eaten Alive.................... 83
Painting Our Self-Portrait.................... 89
Cleansed of My Gold.................... 107
My Eagle's Spirit Breath.................... 115
Teachings of the Dogwood.................... 119
Unlocking My Soul.................... 129
My Heart's Secret Garden.................... 139
My Miracle of a Dove.................... 145
Meeting Jesus.................... 153
At the Center of the Wagon Wheel.................... 163
Chains of the Body, Freedom of the Soul.................... 169
Answering the Call.................... 175
About the Author.................... 185