Reflections: Illumination


I’ve selected six practices that cover most of the living space of our lives. My goal, in addition to sharing these six practices, is to open you to the experience of illumination. Illumination is a light-shifting inner experience, a sudden realization of truth that in some way leaves you feeling inspired. And to be clear, I am not necessarily referring to receiving inspiration for problem solving or ways to work through challenges. I am talking about bringing light into ordinary everyday life.

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Learn more about Illumination”

Spiritual Direction is a continuing theme in my work just as my spiritual practice is in my life. As I have mentioned on numerous occasions during my Reflections classes on Spiritual Direction, I meet weekly with my own Spiritual Director and have for eighteen years. I believe with all my heart that inner reflection and examination of how consciously we are living our life requires a specific type of inner dialogue that recognizes the depth, sensitivities and creative power of our emerging intuitive/spiritual nature.

We are in constant psychic dialogue, for example, with the endless experiences of our life, both personal and those unfolding in the collective. We are the generators of these experiences and their energies flow into our individual energy fields constantly. We are not yet living in a world in which the influences of the subtle realm are recognized as real much less as forces that affect our moods and physical health. But they do.

And it is precisely because you understand that everything you feel, think, say, imagine, or do that we require practices that help us return again and again to a place of inner illumination. I love the visual that the word illumination conveys. Imagine a candle burning brightly within you or a white light flowing into you from above. Illumination was described by John of the Cross as the second stage of the Dark Night of the Soul, the stage in which we deepen our relationship to who we are, what we believe, what we expect of God, what we need to release from our thoughts and mind as well as our heart, and what we need to accept. The experience of illumination is one of seeing or understanding something with great clarity.

I initiate practices for myself all the time. Some of them were temporary and others have melted into my lifestyle. I discovered a long time ago that knowing a lot about spirituality did not mean you benefitted spiritually from that knowledge. I needed to utilize sacred knowledge in order to experience its healing guidance and authority. Reading a book – or forty – was simply not good enough. I wasn’t applying the truth to my life. That was the realization that led me to find a Spiritual Director and to begin a prayer life – and all that that means.

Now, years later, I see so much of myself and my own journey in little and big ways in the lives of many of the people I meet in my workshops. I know what it is to face serious health challenges as well as the hyper-sensitivities that accompany an exploding psychic system. And I know the interior of the soul.

I also deeply believe that we have entered the era of the soul, the beginning of what I think of as our “mystical intelligence”. Our intellectual skills are merging with our sacred nature. Rather than the long-held model of the human being that maintains the separation of body and soul, like church and state, our sacred consciousness is merging with our temporal intellect. We are “early models” or first editions. (How about that?)

But even as first editions, we are learning that our inner self or our mystical nature benefits from certain types of daily practices. Those benefits, in turn, nurture our physical, mental and emotional health. Similarly, when our intuitive or mystical nature is neglected, every part of our life tumbles. Your interior self, as you may have already discovered, is the engine of your life. If it breaks down, everything in your life eventually will as well.

Given these intentions, I’ve selected six practices that cover most of the living space of our lives. My goal, in addition to sharing these six practices, is to open you to the experience of illumination. Illumination is a light-shifting inner experience, a sudden realization of truth that in some way leaves you feeling inspired. And to be clear, I am not necessarily referring to receiving inspiration for problem solving or ways to work through challenges. I am talking about bringing light into ordinary everyday life. I’ll share an example of an experience of illumination from my own life that deeply touched me. It was brief, it came out of the blue, and that was that. Yet, that one, brief, shining moment has changed my life. (To be honest, it took me longer to write about it than to experience it.)

Recently I went on a six-day-long walk with three friends. You can become very focused on the ground when you are walking, particularly when you are maneuvering over small rocks and uneven ground while it’s raining. Eventually the rain stopped and I took a break, finally looking around at where I was. I had walked nearly to the top of a mountain path overlooking a wide valley. The sun had come out and was shooting beams of light across this vast area dotted with small villages. It never occurred to me – amazingly – to pause while walking and observe the sights around me. And now I realized that I was surrounded by beauty. I had walked to the peak of this path through hilly terrain and now I could see snow-capped mountains and charming villages as well as a couple of families in their homes down below.

Suddenly my mind was wandering and wondering all over the place, as if someone had asked me something very important and I was scrambling for the answer. It was the oddest sensation. Then, just like that, my mind calmed down and only one loud but very uncomfortable thought came forward: It occurred to me that I could not really recall most of my own life. I could of course remember events and people and special days. But most of the days of my life are not birthdays, weddings, graduations, funerals, getting a house, falling in love, breaking up, vacations, traveling for workshops or other outstanding experiences. Most of the days are just ordinary days. I wondered about all those days and months and years of my life, all the conversations I’ve had with people, all the places I’ve been that I had long forgotten. I felt a wrenching pain in my heart … the weight of pure sorrow.

How could that be? How can a person not recall her own life? Then I thought, “My life could end right here – in this moment. This could be my final moment on Earth and all this could be the last vision of life that I see.”

The realization that the whole of my life could come to an end in that moment – that a single moment held the potential to release my life, to close down my journey – curiously did not increase the sorrow I was feeling. Instead, I felt overcome with awe, because it was the truth. I dwelled in the power of that truth – that my entire life could end right here just like that – and it filled me with awe, not horror, not fear, not panic, but this cosmic sense of “wow”. Then, suddenly, like a wind out of nowhere, I felt this deep truth light up inside of me: That each moment also holds the full potential for your life to begin anew.

If my life could end in any moment, it could begin anew in any given moment. I had – every human being has – the power to begin anew packed in every moment of life. Every moment was a beginning and an end, an alpha and an omega. That is a mystical truth. I was numb from the impact of this experience.

I decided to record every detail of that day – to remember how it felt, its fragrance, its temperature, the time of day, the angle of the sun. I wanted to feel the sensation of burning a memory into my mind, of heightening my consciousness to super-alert speed.
It worked. I recall every one of those details.

I also recall that heightened sensation of burning a memory into me, of absorbing myself into a moment of my life with my full attention. Nothing has been the same for me since those few moments on the mountain. That experience was illuminating for me. As a result, I have continued to give each day of my life a heightened quality of attention. That attention, in turn, is shifting the choices I make each day. Conscious attention has become part of my daily practice.

One small experience is all you need. I hope in some small way I can convey to all of you my sense of awe. Would that I could. What I can offer you is a set of spiritual practices to help you explore the ways illumination lies in wait in your own life. I hope you will join me for this new Reflections series.



P.S. A special Facebook page (Spiritual Direction – Caroline Myss) has been created to help support this growing Reflections online community, and is available to all students taking these classes.

Lesson 1:


This session introduces you to the meaning of Illumination and what it means to become open to inner experiences of mystical inspiration. The second highlight of this session is learning about the invisible path of your life; that is, how your soul’s path weaves into your physical life path.

  • The Camino – realizations
  • Can an Illumination experience happen any time?
  • Awakening of inner senses – a conscious choice
  • The practice of being a conscious person
  • The practice of endurance and compassion

Lesson 2:

The Practice of Mind-Fullness

This session examines how we attend to the power of our mind. What do we fill our minds with each day? Every word has influence in our thoughts and in how we shape our experiences. We can shift the landscape of our life by heightening our awareness of what influences us and by clearing out thoughts and ideas that no longer serve who we are today.

  • What’s in my mind and what’s on my mind?
  • How well do I observe my own world?
  • What do I ignore and why?
  • Becoming mind-full
  • All that is in my space

Lessons 3:

The Practice of Being You

This practice is not about becoming a narcissist – we have enough of them around. In this session, I will discuss what it means to practice being “fully you”. Many people have to begin their practice slowly, as few people truly understand what those words mean. This session takes you into a deeper understanding of “being me”

  • The deeper meaning of “It’s all about me”
  • Soul self-esteem
  • Outrageous choices
  • The end of betrayal
  • The true meaning of self-love
  • The practice of “Being Me”

Lesson 4:

The Practice of Creativity

Creativity is an essential life force. Even our physical body creates new cells every minute of every day. We need to create – something, anything. Creativity is associated with artistry but that is a limited view of that life force. Creativity is a force of nature itself. This session helps you understand it more deeply and integrate it into a life practice.

  • Redefining yourself
  • Understanding creative instincts
  • Listening for guidance
  • Observing your subtle creative nature
  • Creative habits: speech/clothing/cooking/hairstyle/etc
  • Creative ideas
  • Re-creating yourself

Lesson 5:

The Practice of Balance and Health

The Law of Balance is the fundamental law of nature and therefore of health. We are governed by this law in every aspect of our life, from all things personal to the impersonal system of Mother Nature. Therefore, heightening your awareness of what it means to make balanced choices in your life sets you on a harmonious path with the laws of nature. This session teaches more about this essential life practice.

  • Know your own physical system
  • The challenge of emotional balance
  • Power struggles
  • Choices and consequences
  • How and why you can get thrown off balance
  • The practice of returning to balance

Lesson 6:

The Practice of Prayer and Grace

Prayer in any form – soul time – is essential to your well-being. And it is a practice, even a devotion. Why people hesitate to unite life currents of visible and invisible worlds is beyond me when we carry physical and spiritual currents in our very design. The air is populated with angels and saints … this is not a vacant universe. Everyone needs the power of certain graces to sustain them. This series ends by looking more deeply at these concepts and questions:

  • The graces of Hope, Faith, Courage and Healing
  • The experience of Quietude
  • What is the power hidden in prayer?
  • What if I don’t believe anything?
  • The practice of prayer – micro and macro sized
Caroline Myss

About Caroline Myss

Caroline Myss is a five-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally renowned speaker in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy medicine, and the science of medical intuition. Caroline established her own educational institute in 2003, CMED (Caroline Myss Education), which offers a diverse array of programs devoted to personal development and draws students from all over the world. In addition to her written work, Caroline maintains a rigorous international workshop and lecture schedule and has produced more than eighty audio/visual products on subjects that include healing, spirituality, personal development, and the study of archetypes.

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