One rainy August afternoon in 1986 as I drove down the highway alone in my car, my burdened mind turned toward the shambles of my life. My upcoming divorce, the financial failure of the health club I owned, and my recent acceptance of the fact that I had an alcohol problem, stood accusingly before me as ample proof of my complete failure as a human being. I was attending 12-step meetings and that helped get me through each day, but deep down I believed that the failure of my life was all my fault, and there was no solution in sight.
Then, in an instant, everything changed. My car was hit from behind while simultaneously my spirit exited the driver's side-window and traveled up a cord of light into the loving presence of God. From above I calmly realized that the neck of the body that was mine had snapped broken and the car carrying my body was still moving forward. I thought ?There will need to be another impact to stop the car,? and so there was. By the time the crashing stopped, six vehicles had piled on top of the smashed can that used to be my car. To top everything off, this neck-breaking crash occurred on a road called Breakneck Hill Road!
What happened to the real me -- my spirit -- while I visited heaven was to become the most valuable event of my life. I had a personal experience of God's absolutely unconditional love. I understood that I had never done anything to merit being deprived of this love, and that the only tiny, temporary mistake I had ever made while on earth was to have spent even a moment believing I didn't deserve love. I realized that love is the only real thing that exists in the world. And without a moment of doubt, all the self-imposed barriers in front of my own heart evaporated into nothing. In the loving presence of my Creator, it was so easy to surrender all my earthly burdens. It was the most natural thing to do. My earthly burdens had been a result of temporarily forgetting the unconditional nature of God's love, but in a flash it all came back to me. I became peacefully aware that everything that had happened in my life, all events, situations, and relationships, had been part of God's plan to bring me to love. Even though I had forgotten that goal while I was on earth, I was remembering it again in heaven, and that changed everything. I understood that my soon-to-be-ex-husband really had loved me even though we were getting a divorce. The divorce didn't matter, but the love did.
Then I was given a special kind of awareness about the nature of healing on earth. I was given to understand that every human health problem, all diseases, deformities, and disabilities are absolutely within God's power to heal. Even though I don't know how it works, I do know that it's the truth. And as God and I looked down upon my broken body in the mangled car wreck, I asked a question whose answer I already knew: 'Can You heal even that?' The answer was wordlessly conveyed to me with such lighthearted tenderness: 'Of course I can!'
To better help me realize this truth, I was given this earthly analogy: it is easier for God to heal quadriplegia than it is for a person to scatter the dust of a puff-ball mushroom with a single gentle breath. I knew this was true because I was given a finished product experience of what it felt like to be completely healed and whole again. The self who experienced what this healing felt like was not my body, but the real me, my spirit. This brought such joy and peace and fulfillment to me, while it brought full mental acceptance of the truth to my mind. All I would need to do if I decided to return to earth would be to apply this finished product experience to my physical body. In heaven this seemed very easy to accomplish.
Because I had been a Certified Massage Therapist for seven years when my near-death experience occurred, I had already accepted the fact that real healing takes place regardless of the imaginary limits of physically-focused medicine. But this heavenly personal experience of full healing power reached far beyond the wholistic healing ideas I had already grasped. It brought me into the natural realm of miracles. As a result, I would never again be able to see spinal cord injury paralysis as a permanent condition in anyone, including myself.
As I reviewed my life on earth from above, I knew that I was not yet finished and that I still had so much to accomplish as Laurel Duran. So I began to waver toward returning to my physical life. I realized that physical death is not an actual ending for the real self, but more like a temporary bookmark that holds your spirit's place in earth's classroom until you're ready to finish the school work. I knew that I would eventually have to face the exact same issues and concerns that had troubled me so deeply in life. It was easy to accept all of this because I knew that no matter what happened, I could always rely on God's unconditional love to see me through, to power my ability and willingness to face anything on earth.
Again I asked a question of God even though I already knew the answer: 'Will You stay with me if I go back?' Once again the wordless reply came with such tender compassion: 'My beloved child Laurel, I will always be with you, to love you, and to give you My strength whenever you ask for it. From now on, just ask Me and I will help you. Then let go and trust. I will do the rest.'
I was so heartened that I responded 'I know I can do it, God! Now I know that I can face anything with your Love holding me. I have to go back! I'm ready...but please stay with me, God. Stay with me!' And in an instant I was back inside my completely paralyzed body.
As the jaws of life sounds of metal cutting metal reached my ears I realized that I was surrounded by people who were trying to reach and help me. I was terrified! What a horror it was to be completely unable to command my body to get out of the car. When I was finally out of the wreckage an EMT stood over me and said 'We're going to get you to a hospital!', I had just enough breath to answer 'Thank you for saving my life.' As he placed an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth, I looked into his eyes. I saw the presence of God's love in the compassionate eyes of this man that I had never met. Just by looking into his eyes I was instantly reminded of God's promise to help me. Heavenly love on earth had already begun to happen!
In between moments of believing that my body's terrible condition was real, I closed my eyes and re-experienced the real love of heaven. I went back and forth inside myself, realizing what had happened to my body, then just as quickly, I surrendered to the comfort of God's love that had been firmly planted inside my heart. Over and over, as each second that passed seemed to go on forever, I chose to trust heaven's love instead of earth's pain. And it was heaven's love that carried me to the hospital.
Over the next 2 months I remained hospitalized, first in critical condition in intensive care, then in a regular hospital ward, until I finally arrived at a rehabilitation hospital. From the moment I came back into my body, I began talking to God (praying) and listening to God (meditating).This became my full-time occupation.
Before the crash, I had been thoroughly focused on the world outside me, and because of guilt feelings I had been terrified of being still and looking within. I believe that God lovingly swept clean the table of my life's activities so that I would be absolutely still, unable to do anything but receive the love I needed to heal. Once I began to converse with God, I discovered that our relationship was just wonderful! My friends and family fervently prayed for me too.
Because the hospitals did not provide the Massage Therapy I so desperately needed, a dear friend came to massage me daily after she finished her own full day at work. Together we verbally affirmed the healing changes that were taking place in the cells of my spinal cord, and we visualized healing success as she compassionately massaged me. ( I later learned that she had drawn a completely healed picture of my spinal cord on a whiteboard in her office. Every day she would look at this healed picture and reaffirm that the healing was true.)
While in the hospital there were many days that contained frustration, sorrow, and eventually, intense physical pain, all of which would bring me to tears. I refused to suppress my tears, and along with that, I also refused to ingest any of the emotional or physical pain-suppressing drugs that were routinely prescribed to spinal cord injury patients. Instead, I allowed myself to cry so that I would release the honest feelings out of my system, thereby clearing the inner pathways to full healing. I would imagine that every tear fell upon a silver platter that I would send up to God. I truly believed that God was patiently waiting for me to send up these sorrowful troubles. In return I imagined that God responded with 'That's good, Laurel. Here's our trade: you send me your tears, and I'll send you miracles.'
I also refused to absorb any of the medical staff's limiting beliefs about the permanence of paralysis from spinal cord injuries. My feisty, strong-willed spirit frequently encountered disdain or outright hostility from some medical staff who perceived my individual strength to be a threat to their institutional order.
But because I received my information and support from the ultimate Source of the universe, I held fast to my private self-healing plan. These challenges to my will merely strengthened it. I must confess that they spiced up my often dreary hospital days! Everything that happened to me was a perfect part of the plan.
After 2 months in hospitals, I was able to return home on my body's own power. In 3 months, my neurosurgeon expressed concern that it was too dangerous for me to dance while wearing the 'halo' that held my neck rigidly in place. I certainly wasn't about to give up dancing, so he removed the halo!
Just 4 months after the crash, I began taking Massage patients again, but my therapeutic approach had completely changed. Even though I had not yet regained all my finer muscular function, patients still flocked to my door. I found myself extending faith to folks whose greatest needs seemed to be for spiritual encouragement. I believe that my unconditional faith in God's healing power became my greatest Massage Therapy tool.
Within 6 months I was driving a car, and at 8 months I began running every day. Throughout my initial self-healing process and until today, more than 13 years after breaking my neck, I still begin and end each day of my life with a private conversation with God. The gratitude I still feel today has not diminished, and I am even more grateful to be honored with every opportunity to extend inspiration, courage, and healing to each hopeful person I encounter.
Today my life is about sharing the hope and spiritual inspiration that my healing story conveys, and I utilize my terrific physical vitality to serve as a living example of God's unlimited benevolent power. I have shared my miraculous healing story with thousands of people, and the most frequently asked question has been 'How did you do it?' Very simply I answer 'I used all the love that came to me and fed it to myself and to my cells. Equally important, anything unloving that came to me, I would not feed to myself or to my cells.'
I believe it is essential that each individual patient discern for herself who and what has loving value to her. Each of us has the ability to sense loving value in each situation, for that is the mark of God's hand on earth. Regardless of a patient's physical condition, within each of us is a seed of unlimited self-healing potential.
No matter what our personal healing struggles may be, the truth is that God holds us in the hands of compassion -- always!
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