RETURN TO WAKEFULNESS

Written By Regan Caruthers
Driven by her desire to make a difference, Regan Caruthers is a coach, mentor, and advisor to some of the most well established education companies, and devotes much of her time to recruiting senior talent, coaching education industry leaders, and innovating educational programs. Operating always with the belief that we must lead with our hearts, Regan’s unique and intuitive approach to business was influenced by her early schooling where she meditated each day and learned other healing modalities such as Tai Chi. Her former work with the HeartMath Institute and Society for Organizational Learning enables her to bring transformative tools to her clients to build resilience and navigate change with more ease and grace. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Regan has called Santa Cruz, CA home for the last 20 years. Her two sons, Connor and Ian, and her husband, Jim are the loves of her life. Outside of her work in education, Regan is a writer and a intuitive with a focus and specialty in the healing arts.
Return to Wakefulness

From a place of terror at the age of nine, I consciously demanded out loud that my extrasensory abilities stop. In my basement, my refuge from the chaos that often permeated my home, where I would dance and tumble to uplifting Broadway show tunes, I saw him again. This demon-like entity was a frequent visitor. I would see him mostly at night, alone in my bed, where I feared the dark and slept always with my closet light on.

That day he sat on a fiery throne above the washer. I knew not what he wanted or needed. I felt such a deep sense of terror in that moment that from an instinctual reflex, I ran up the basement steps yelling, “Enough! I don’t want to hear or see. STOP!” And so it did. My psychic gifts, the ability to hear what others were thinking, seeing beings that others didn’t, the deep connection I had to an unseen intelligence that I didn’t understand, and the ever present love and empathy for others, no longer filled my days.

For the next 18 years, I lived without conscious awareness of my divine gifts and walked awake in my life without remembering. This sleep was purposeful, and in many ways it protected me from sensing more than I knew how to manage as a young girl, as I strived to just be “normal.”

My days prior to this incident were filled with an abundant sense of love for all. My teachers called me an “old soul” and would urge my mother to visit me in school where she would witness what they characterized as a girl with exceptional empathy and sensitivity. I knew I was different and had conscious awareness that the intelligence I felt so deeply connected to was unlike my peers. The constant hearing of people’s internal thoughts coupled with my deep empathy, seeing things that others didn’t, however, led me to feeling afraid and sometimes overwhelmed. I longed for peace—peace in my home and peace within.

My young life was colored with constant polarity. My psychic, magnetic mother had brilliant highs and catastrophic lows. Self-diagnosed as a manic depressive in 1961, she literally drew the diagnosis out of the air when her doctors struggled to identify what she was enduring. My father, who I only saw on Sundays for lunch, was a local legend, the most influential and revered attorney in St. Louis where we lived. His life also provided contrast, he lived in a lavish 10,000 square foot home; his carriage house was larger than the home I grew up in; he was an instrument for justice in our community yet left me alone to navigate the complexity of living with my bipolar mother and her violent husband.

As I slept, awake but dormant, I had the sheer privilege of going to Forsyth School. My pediatrician recommended it to my mother saying casually one office visit, “You should check out Forsyth, Mary Dunbar has created something very special that would be great for Regan.” This magical school, founded in 1961 by three women, all of whom were scholars with advanced degrees who had met at the local Unity Church where the school would first hold class. The principles of the school mirrored the teachings of Charles Filmore and combined the pedagogy of Montessori to enable us to work independently at our own pace.

My mother choosing this school for me was reflective of her innate wisdom. My father wanted me to attend Community School, a school for the St. Louis elite, my mother knew better.

Each day at school, we would meditate and imagine first in mind the qualities of the day we wanted to create. As a small class we would walk to nearby Forest Park and move mindfully together in our daily practice of Tai Chi. The mornings were filled with music. Each song filled with the wisdom of universal principles and the primacy of love and conscious thought.

“Look for love, look for love when the dawn light is breaking, look for love. Look for love, in the evening when the stars are waking. Look for love, look for love and when you do; look for love and love will be right there looking at you.”

These songs of an awakened life filled my days and comforted me. My hibernating gifts were still being fostered there. From photographing our energy with Kirlian film, to being asked almost daily evocative questions such as, “Who are you? Why are you? Where are you?” Answers like “I’m Regan, a girl from St. Louis, sitting on the living room floor of our schoolhouse,” were not acceptable answers. Instead, we were led to understand that we were energy, that our purpose was to love consciously and fully, aligned with our collective, divine purpose for existing, and that our thoughts were our location, in that at any moment our consciousness determined our place. These lessons fortified me.

For at home, there were deep, almost daily disturbances. My dear Mother, whose love was larger than any other human I’ve ever known, was also paired with despair. The choices she made from this unregulated place attracted violence in the mate she chose and created a deeply felt unstable energy in the home.

My alcoholic step father would frequently hit his son violently in front of me, his anger was unpredictable, and he would break furniture and punch holes in walls. I didn’t feel safe though I was often comforted by my mother’s magnetic and deeply committed love. Falling asleep to my empathetic nature was a natural reaction to not wanting to be fully awake, an impulse of self-protection. I wanted to feel less, see less and I guess, be less.

And I gave normalcy a full-scale effort. My years at Forsyth School ended at 11. Since there were no grades or grading and the curriculum was individualized, I found myself at age 11 in 7th grade at the highly competitive, heady and affluent, John Burroughs School. I prioritized social ascendancy. I wanted desperately to fit in. I had my struggling mother buy me Dickies pants, Fair Isle sweaters, Pappagallo purses, all the trappings of the preppy lifestyle that mirrored the peers I wanted acceptance from. Ten class periods dominated my days and the core values of my environment centered on affluence, achievement, getting “ahead.” In that brief but forlorn year I rejected the school and asked my mother and father to please enroll me in my local public school.

FALLING ASLEEP TO MY EMPATHETIC NATURE WAS A NATURAL REACTION TO NOT WANTING TO BE FULLY AWAKE, AN IMPULSE OF SELF-PROTECTION AND A DESIRE JUST TO LEAD A ‘NORMAL’ LIFE.

Again, different place, same goal; to fit. And I didn’t. I was ahead of myself, younger by two years than most of my classmates. I was very small, I was bullied. I hated school and my life at home increased in chaos. I didn’t feel safe at either place. Still asleep, yet I had brief moments where my psychic gifts would reveal themselves. One fate filled day, as my Mother and I drove to orthodontist, I stared out the window of our modest car and that familiar quiet voice inside told me to repeat the 9th grade. As I reflected on the guidance in this rare quiet, I realized that when I was playing with my neighborhood best friend, Heidi (whose home was my safe haven), I felt at ease. We were the same age, just three weeks apart and when I played with her and others my own age I had more peace.

So with my mother’s unquestioned support, I found myself presenting to our local school board my rationale for wanting to repeat the grade despite my standing as an A student. I made my case, thoughtful and forcefully authentic in my pitch, and miraculously the administration approved my request. My second 9th grade was a turning point in my life. I finally felt accepted by peers and my loose school day was filled with just electives, working for the administration, and enabled me to just breathe easier. I was happier and I found that my social relationships supported me and enabled me to “succeed.” I was popular. I loved cheerleading, going to parties and fitting in for the first time. And while still asleep, my dormant gifts began unconsciously expressing themselves a bit more. I was often the counselor of my peers, bringing empathetic support, and was often characterized by my friends as ahead of my time, wiser, more knowing. But I was just happy to have a full social life and a school setting that didn’t challenge me in any way, other than boredom.

And my life continued in a conventional way: I attended college, earned a high GPA and travelled nationally with the speech and debate team. I fell deeply in love, marrying at the young age of 23, driven to create a more stable life on my own terms. I had no conscious awake memory of my early education, my psychic gifts, nor was I using any of the tools that had been part of my daily life as a young elementary student.

Three weeks after I graduated from college, I got a great job as a sales representative for Prentice Hall. I quickly became a top performer and was offered a promotional opportunity with a competitor 18 months later. I was focused on creating security and stability, ambitious and asleep. Part of my DNA inheritance was drive. I’d grown up with parental narratives of exceptionalism and I unconsciously thought that if I kept climbing, earning, striving that I could create safety.

Travelling across the Midwest for a publishing conglomerate, I held a high profile position that provided me access to company leadership. I suddenly found myself surrounded by chaos at work and in a toxic environment fueled by fear. I was living and working on the edge, with cultural differences between new management (which I was a part of) and legacy people whose tactics and approaches needed innovation. I witnessed cruelty, discrimination, and injustice almost daily. My mentor, who had recruited me, was fired. I was sexually harassed, belittled, and ostracized.

This cascading set of circumstances and people driven by unconscious fear culminated when another mentor confided in me that someone at work had raped her. She, like me, represented the new “regime” of leaders that were being rebelled against by reactionary forces who wanted things to remain as they had always been. It felt as if this horrific act of violence was symbolic, a way of communicating to those of us who represented change that the change would continue to be met with dark resistance.

I didn’t realize it then that the fearlessness that began to overtake me was leading back to my state of wakefulness. I wrote to the CEO expressing grave concern about the ethical breaches of his senior leaders, though not betraying any confidence about the rape. He responded immediately, flew me to headquarters where we spent a day talking about the business, about the need for change and the impact that fear has on people, encouraging them to do unspeakable things in an effort to maintain what is known and comfortable. I was feeling alive as dormant instincts began to drive my decisions. I no longer wanted to fit into something that I had worked so hard to be part of. I was aware of the values clash and I could feel the energy climb within myself. At the time I thought it must be what mania felt like. I thought of my mother, her power, and how difficult it was for her to maintain it in an environment that wasn’t ready to understand it. I felt as if I were going to burst open as I briefed executives at my national sales meeting, I was overtaken by exhaustion on the one hand and some unexplainable fearlessness on the other. They had crossed a kind of values-based redline. A redline I didn’t know I had until faced with the confrontation.

I DIDN’T REALIZE IT THEN THAT THE FEARLESSNESS THAT BEGAN TO OVERTAKE ME WAS LEADING BACK TO MY STATE OF WAKEFULNESS.

As the demands of a national sales meeting began to show itself, within myself, I was comforted knowing that my best friend Heidi, the friend who provided me a safe place when we were young, was coming to visit me in San Francisco where the conference was being held. She had just graduated from culinary school and wanted to land a job cooking with a great chef. The timing of my meeting and her aspirations was near perfect in that she could stay in my suite, I could feed her off the buffet and have her sweet presence with me in the evenings.

Mid-meeting she arrived and brought me a gift, the book, A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. I was touched by the sentiment and as I opened the book I quickly glanced at the introduction and read, “When we were born, we were programmed perfectly. We had a natural tendency to focus on love. Our imaginations were creative and flourishing, and we knew how to use them. We were connected to a world much richer than the one we connect to now, a world full of enchantment and a sense of the miraculous.”

I looked up at Heidi and said, “Thank you. I love you but I don’t have time for this.” And off I went to lead my next session.

That night, overtaken by manic exhaustion, I was glad to know that Heidi was going to go out to experience the city, have some cocktails, and socialize. I went to bed fatigued. I wasn’t prayerful. I wasn’t grateful. I was tired, angry, exhausted and felt surrounded by enemies who sought to do me harm. All I wanted was a decent night’s sleep. A few hours later in the dark of night, I woke up with a familiar sense of terror. The terror awakened me and I knew as I opened my eyes that someone was in my room. I could feel it before I could see it. And there, standing at the end of my bed, was the same entity I saw often as a young girl, who I said a dramatic goodbye to at the age of nine, as I fled up my basement steps. I recognized him immediately. He stood, reposed, with arms crossed, as if studying me at the foot of my bed. Again out of some fundamental extinct I said to him, “Oh it’s you, it’s only you. I am not afraid of you.” And I closed my eyes and fell back to sleep.

The next morning I awakened.

As I opened my eyes I was met by feelings that are hard to have words for. I felt a deep, complete peace, a profound feeling of oneness and love for and with all. I harbored no ill will for my colleagues; instead I loved them, forgave them and understood them. I knew it in the cells of my being that the choices my colleagues had made and were making were just expressions of fear and internal suffering. Frankly, I understood everything as if I was clearly connected to an intelligence beyond my physical self. I knew this feeling. It predominated my young life. Everything made sense. I understood my mother, my stepfather who was abusive to me and his son. I knew, without thinking, that the only reason we exist is to learn to love, to learn and understand how we are all connected to each other and to the larger force that created us. Fear is an illusion and as long as you fear, you can’t love. Our collective task is to transmute suffering by accessing the healing energy of love. I had returned to love. I was no longer asleep.

FEAR IS AN ILLUSION AND AS LONG AS YOU FEAR, YOU CAN’T LOVE. OUR COLLECTIVE TASK IS TO TRANSMUTE SUFFERING BY ACCESSING THE HEALING ENERGY OF LOVE. I HAD RETURNED TO LOVE. I WAS NO LONGER ASLEEP.

Not knowing how long this unexplainable understanding would last, I wanted to reach my mother back in St. Louis and tell her everything I was sensing and understanding. Unlike any other time before, I couldn’t reach her by phone, nor could I reach my husband or father. The only person who answered was Joe, my stepfather who had been the source of fear, violence and chaos for most of my life. And I felt nothing but love for him. I understood him, the pain that drove his actions and I wanted to let him know how much I loved him and that I had nothing but complete forgiveness and love for him. The presence within me began to speak and tell him that, but also the larger picture. I wasn’t speaking, not Regan, it was the Presence speaking on my behalf. The purpose of living is to learn how to Love, to return to Love for it’s what we are, there is no other purpose. As Joe listened, he dropped the phone, for I heard it scuffle. A few seconds later he says, “Well Blonde Beauty I have no explanation for this but a golden eagle just landed on the top of the crabapple tree in the backyard.” Again I hear the phone drop, he returns seconds later, “I don’t understand what I’m seeing but a red fox is now at the base of this tree, looking up at the eagle.”

From this moment to now, almost 25 years later, Joe is a different man; kind, generous in his actions, gentle, caring, loving. The energy of divine love which I embodied and shared with him, changed him. The abuse he had suffered as a child, which drove his adult behaviors no longer ruled him. Having been fully loved, he could heal. The energy of Divine Love, had travelled thousands of miles, over the phone lines to him and he is forever changed. And I changed too.

Upon returning to St. Louis, I greeted by husband with a feeling of endless love. I shared with him what had happened to me in San Francisco and he met the change in me with acceptance. That night, we conceived our first son, Connor. The moment his spirit entered my body, I knew it. I knew him and was ready to bring another being into this world who could be a system-buster too and help raise the consciousness of the planet at what felt like a critical time. My elevated consciousness, feelings of oneness and unconditional love for all lasted for three years or so. The love that I could access led me on a divergent path than the one that preceded it.

I left the publishing industry and focused on loving my new baby, following the path that my spirit was illuminating for me. A few weeks upon by return to St. Louis, as I drove with my husband on familiar streets, I pointed to the Unity Church that we had passed countless times before and said, “I’d like to go to services there this Sunday. My grade school began there and it’s important that I return.” The song, “Let There be Peace on Earth and Let it Begin with Me,” closed the service that Sunday and I knew every word since I had sang it so many times before. The Sunday School was housed in the original Forsyth School house, and a year after I attended services I found myself leading a group of 60 teens in the same building. I shared the songs of my youth with them, taught them meditation and all the principles that informed my formative days. Each day brought some kind of synchronistic miracle, from meetings with “strangers” on the street, to mail that arrived seemingly out of “nowhere”. I began working with a parent educator, Peggy Jenkins who had received an award at the U.N for the contributions her work made in the lives of children. Her book, The Joyful Child mirrored the principles of my early schooling and I was alive in my collaboration with her. That work led me to the Institute of HeartMath, where I felt instantly at home and my heart knew the place and the people. I immersed myself in their programs and quickly began to represent their techniques and approaches to heart-based living in workshops and trainings I conducted throughout St. Louis. My days were rich, full of spirit and the cues to follow to be of service to people in my community. And then, as sudden as my awakening from 18 years of unconscious sleep, I began to experience darkness again.

Just before the moment of falling asleep, I heard a loud rushing sound as if a strong wind resided between my ears. I was then pulled from my physical body by an unseen force. I travelled to dark, fear inducing places, confronted by dark energies. I felt as if I were being tested again. Almost every night for the next year I confronted what I now know were aspects of myself represented by formless, dark energies that greeted me each night. At first, like before at my national sales meeting, I willed my response, an instinctual reaction to fight what I was seeing. As time passed I learned to be neutral when I saw these forces, energetically mimicking my prior response of “It’s you, it’s only you, I’m not afraid of you.” And then finally after months, I was able to love these forces. From that place of loving surrender, I learned how to consciously exit my body as a choice and then as suddenly as the onset of this phase of learning, the visitations stopped.

I’VE LEARNED TO ACCEPT THE CYCLICAL NATURE OF LIVING AND I AM ALWAYS GRATEFUL FOR AN AWAKE DAY AND A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP. AND THROUGH IT ALL I HAVE LEARNED TO RETURN TO LOVE, AGAIN AND AGAIN.

And so did my direct access to feelings of oneness and unconditional love without conscious intention. While it must have been a slow fade over time, what I’ve realized over the 20 years since my awakening is that its existence, like sleep, comes in cycles. And just like I can remember what it feels like to get a great night’s rest, I can remember the feeling of oneness and unconditional love and call upon it, in the quiet of meditation or in a moment of stress or crisis. I have learned to integrate aspects of myself by loving all of it and now from a place of deeper integration I work again with corporations and coach executives and managers to find a deeper connection within themselves. All of the principles I learned at a young age coupled with my direct experience of love and darkness enable me now to meet my clients with authenticity, understanding of suffering and sacred knowledge. I create an energetic container for them to tap into the higher intelligence that resides within. I love them, mirror back to them their brilliance and help them access the love that lives within their heart. They emerge more whole, with tools to navigate the complexity of living in this world at this time.

I am still learning and sacred knowledge that lives within me continues to emerge. I continue to attract teachers who share with me new tools and I continue to integrate new learning and share what I know with those who cross my path. Sometimes I will experience a day where I struggle to feel awake, others come as natural as I felt post awakening. I’ve learned to accept the cyclical nature of living and I am always grateful for an awake day and a good night’s sleep. And through it all I have learned to return to Love, again and again.

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