Article by Barb St. James, member of the Building 4th community
Over the past year and half, I’ve learned to trust Barb’s amazing heart and ability to show up in life with real integrity and authenticity. I’ve been inspired by her spiritual seeking which very evidently is centered in the heart. A few weeks ago I asked her if she would be willing to write down her personal narrative as she sees it so I could post it on the Building 4th Cosmic Christ blog. Her first draft was so rich that I asked her for one more favor. I invited her to write down in “bullet point” form some of her distilled wisdom that she could share to younger “other-selves” who may need to hear. I hope you enjoy Barb’s offering and join me in honoring her vulnerability. –Doug Esse
Click here to listen to Barb read her story:
Hey, Barb St. James here and I would like to share with you a glimpse of my spiritual journey. Hopefully something in my journey touches, you.
My journey has been colorful to say the least and certainly not without DEEP suffering. It feels like I have lived many lifetimes in this one mind-body.
Around the age of five I had this sense of just not fitting in. I was described as a quiet, shy, introverted little girl. I found solace and communion with nature and animals, but not so much with humans. I was always a curious observer of life, especially when it came to watching human behavior. I would just sit, watch and ponder, asking myself “what makes humans tick”? I feel fortunate to have been able to live completely in the present moment until age thirteen. I grew up living on one Air Force base after another and by the age of sixteen I had moved ten times. During my first year of high school, something started to shift, and I slowly began to go emotionally numb.
Skipping over a lot of the story, and going to my first week at college, I experienced what I call a “God wink”. It was very simplistic; I was entering an elevator and two student nurses followed me in. In the elevator, as I was listening to them chat, all of a sudden, a very intense sensation washed over me. This energy took my breath away and almost knocked me over. In that brief moment I gained a deep understanding about what it meant to be of service to others. I later ended up with a degree in psychology and went on to work as a therapist at a substance abuse clinic, in emergency rooms, and later the Boeing company.
Going back to after college graduation, my life took yet another turn, spiraling into unimaginable darkness. Feeling lost and hopeless, I experienced depression, drug addiction and a couple of unintended end-of-life near misses. I have had many “God winks” along the way but I never clearly saw or heard them, or I simply ignored them. Self-loathing and destructive behavior continued for ten more years. I am now able to recognize that I was always being Divinely guided, hearing over and over, “this is not who you are”.
By 1993 my spiritual hunger was insatiable. You name it, I tried it; tarot cards, past life regression, assorted workshops, channeled readings, hypnosis, and tons of books about non-duality. Early on one teacher’s story struck a chord with me, it was about a night when he was in a state of anxiety and suicidal depression.
The thought “I cannot live with myself any longer” kept repeating in his mind. Then suddenly he became aware of what a peculiar thought this was, Am I one or two, the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with? Maybe, he thought, “only one of them is real”. To this day I am still very grateful for his story.
In 2012 I began working with a life coach who helped me open what I called “Pandora’s Box”, where I had stuffed all my emotions since the age of sixteen. I did not know what anger was much less love or joy, or even what family felt like. After a few months of working with her, ALL the emotions came flooding back. In retrospect, at that time, it was too much for my mind and body.
It has been a roller coaster ride with twists, turns, highs and lows. In late 2013 I began experiencing long episodes of anxiety which manifested in my heart center. I felt extremely powerful swirls of energy, and at times it felt like I could not take one more minute. Fear would overtake me during these times and I would head to the walk-in clinic for EKGs at least once a year, and on a few occasions headed to the emergency room. On the flip side on a deeper more subtle level, I was blessed with a sense of being wrapped in warmth and love. What a precious blessing.
A year later I began experiencing what I call “body gremlins”, which manifested as aches, pains and aliments that would crop up all over my body, moving from one area to another. This was very scary as everything felt so real, but no medical testing has ever found any physical causes. These gremlins have been amazing catalysts and still exist today.
In 2015 I had a beautiful spiritual experience. It began with everything around, me including my body, being stripped away. All of a sudden there was no awareness of any form and yet there was Consciousness. There was an endless emptiness. It was dark, yet luminous. The darkness was not cold or frightening, it was full and alive with nothingness, it was comfortable and inviting. After this experience my fear of death lessened, and my sense of curiosity grew even more intense. The word surrender was Divinely given to me in 2016 and in 2020 the words faith and trust were added.
Today the dreams, visualizations and messages I receive clearly point me to learning to live as Love. This is the total opposite of my life having been lived with a closed protected heart. I cannot count the times when I realized I was living in my own self-imposed prison where I could not seem to break free. I often sense myself standing at a ledge ready to drop the illusion of control and just let go, but I hesitate and step back. In prayer I often ask God to help me un-shield my heart, and guide me so that I might fill it with gratitude, compassion, forgiveness and acceptance.
I feel like a very OLD wandering soul, hopefully touching one person at a time along the way. I am able to visualize with more clarity these days, and not long ago I was shown my ENTIRE journey. The pathway was lined with brilliant white to golden light. I saw EVERYTHING, even all the crossroads.
Over the years I have come across so many simple phrases and quotes, which at the time I only understood in my mind. I never really embodied these learnings until now, and some are still a work in progress. Here are a few I’d like to share with you.
– I am certainly not in the driver’s seat, so let go and relax nothing is under control.
– I have been blessed with so many answered prayers, so “ask and it is given”.
– The teacher will come when the student is ready. This has been my experience, and the lessons will show up in many forms.
– If you think your journey will lead to a final blissful resting place, think again. We are here in physical form to experience contrast. The peaks and valleys seem to level out and the gaps between them become fewer and far between.
– Curiosity allows such a wonderful expansive flow for growth, so without judgement, get curious about everything, especially your thoughts.
– Never compare your journey with anyone else’s. You are a unique expression of the One Infinite Creator.
– Take time for contemplation. Be fully present in heart, mind and body. For me it is walking in nature, sitting in solitude, and journaling.
– I still find myself wanting “what is” to be different. I will feel an icky resistance in my body and the thoughts can be so exhausting. During times like these I practice acceptance.
– Stop trying to get to the bottom of “it”, there is no bottom.
– Do not try to recreate peak experiences, just accept them as the gifts they are.
– Worrying is using your imagination to create something you do not want.
-The greatest weapon against stress is choosing one thought over another.
-Do not get wrapped up with people or situations, both are powerless without your reaction.
– No amount of anxiety makes any difference to anything that is going to happen.
– In the Hebrew Bible there is a mention of the golden thread which moves towards unity. Look for this single thread along your journey.
-Ra says, if a catalyst is not processed efficiently, the unlearned lesson is repackaged and delivered in the form of further catalysts. No kidding!
– Ask yourself, what do I really know for certain?
I can recall the times I felt “pinched off” from God. Those times are rare and thankfully short lived these days. What use to be very subtle and often missed Devine guidance is now clearly heard, felt or seen. In prayer I ask to be shown the lessons I have yet to learn. One way this prayer was answered are during what I call “Christmas Carol” moments. In these moments I am guided, to a particular past experience, usually a dark one, to re-live it. I can see the expression on my face and hear myself saying, “here we go again”.
Doubt and fear still try so very hard to twist their way into my mind and body, then I remember, fear cannot co-exist with Love. I was recently guided back to a well-known scripture, Corinthians 13:4-8, which encompasses so much in a few short verses about how to live as Love. Another beautiful word is Grace. It is said Grace is obtained through faith, and mine grows more deeply with every breath. It all comes together in the three words given to me, Faith, Trust and Surrender.
Remember, no matter how lost we get along the way, Divine guidance will always keep pointing us back “home” to Love and Unity.
Much love, blessings, Barbara