My Transformative Experience at The Path of Consciousness Spiritual and Writing Retreat

By Sonya Julie

A large hawk circles overhead as the fog shrouds the corridor of trees, their soft autumn hues beginning to blush. I travel through the beautiful mist on this cool October day as I head to the Path of Consciousness Conference and Retreat. My dear friend Weam Namou has created this event from a vision she has had, following the urging of purpose unfolding from her soul.

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An autumn leaf on the forest floor sits upon the trail that many attendees visited over the weekend for reflection

The focus for all of us who attend is to pray, dream, and write the story in our hearts – one that inspires, gives peace, and strengthens the spirit. I had the opportunity to both speak at and attend this beautiful three-day event that focused on writing and spirituality. We experienced ancient healing techniques, used nature for connection, learned about journaling and memoir writing, stretched our bodies into beautiful yoga poses, experienced a powerful gong meditation that offered unique insight, and so much more.

My workshop was the first to occur early on Saturday morning. After dashing through the light rain to the main building, I found my place in a large room with a gorgeous view of the expansive land surrounding the retreat center. A field of vibrant green grass was surrounded by a thick swath of mature trees, just beginning to show their autumn color. I was presenting a session called Creative Vision Board Workshop: Envision Your Success! and being in this soothing space was perfect for the message I planned to deliver.

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Our beautiful meeting space for The Path of Consciousness Retreat at the Colombiere Conference and Retreat Center in Clarkston, Michigan.

 

I talked about how we can choose to change at any time and that creating a vision board is much more than just putting pretty pictures on a poster board and forgetting about it. Creating our vision is a powerful first step in which we can manifest our dreams. I offered tools and techniques to assist in the growth process and shared some of my experiences which included the time I decided to leave corporate life to strike out on my own – which was scary and wonderful all at once.

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Sonya Julie presenting Creative Vision Board Workshop: Envision Your Success! at the Path of Consciousness Retreat

Thoughtful questions, head nods, the occasional shared laughter, and a sense of connection were felt as I shared my heart with the audience who was so willing to receive. Afterwards I had many rewarding conversations all weekend long with people about working towards their goals and dreams. I met so many beautiful people and was able to witness such tender truth and heartfelt emotion from the core of their magnificent souls as they blessed me with their thoughts and experiences.

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Weam Namou, founder of The Path of Consciousness, presenting Memoir Writing for Transformation
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Weam Namou’s books were available at the author table during The Path of Consciousness Retreat

 

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Weam speak about memoir writing, especially because I am in the process of writing one myself presently. Creating a collection of stories from the heart is a transformative process that will allow me to shift my energy and experience deep personal growth. I appreciate her emphasis on creating quality material and utilizing professional editing – good advice for all types of writers.

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Patty Shaw signing her book and sharing smiles at the author and information table at The Path of Consciousness – a fun place to connect all weekend long

I loved hearing from Robert E. Haskins about handwriting analysis and when he analyzed my handwriting on my name tag, it was amazing as to how accurate it was and how the information flowed from his higher self to me. As he spoke to our group, he emphasized that in getting to know ourselves, we then experience tremendous growth. As we explore our subconscious mind we find buried information that will allow us to transform, heal, and move forward on our path.

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Robert E. Haskins presenting valuable insight about handwriting analysis at The Path of Consciousness Retreat

I had the pleasure of enjoying Mr. Haskins’ company as we sat together at lunch and offered gratitude for the bountiful food before us – lush salad greens with every imaginable topping, a variety of dressings, soups, and a beautiful meal of turkey and gravy prepared for the all the groups visiting the Colombiere Conference Center in Clarkston, Michigan.

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Everyone enjoyed the delicious bounty of food at the Colombiere Conference and Retreat Center

With big smiles and warm hearts, we shared life experiences, ideas, philosophies, and expressed what we appreciated about that moment – the birds perching on the large trees out the window that we chose to sit by and the wonderful people joining us at our table. Truly a kindred soul, I deeply felt that I had met him somewhere in a previous place and time.

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Wake Up Your Nature facilitated by Patty Shaw was enjoyed by all at The Path of Consciousness Retreat
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The beautiful grounds were part of our focus during Wake Up Your Nature at The Path of Consciousness Retreat
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Participants in Wake Up Your Nature were asked to think about how spirit lifts us up so that we may grow and share our stories

 

After lunch we went on a replenishing walk with Patty Shaw where she facilitated her workshop Wake Up Your Nature. She helped us to release that which no longer served us creatively and to gather inspiration and connection from the earth and our ancestors. It was a powerful experience and some participants shared what they felt. The most memorable for me was from the woman who noticed the bright yellow autumn leaves of a bush on the staircase as we ascended into the light and how it reminded her of her first spiritual awakening and it left goosebumps on my arms.

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Attendees were able to walk the full path on this beautiful Labyrinth at the Path of Consciousness Retreat with Lisa Argo facilitating
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Lisa Argo, enjoying her time at The Path of Consciousness Retreat

Next, I traveled through a labyrinth as Lisa Argo facilitated our journey through spirit and writing. The process was very much like the path of life, ever ebbing and flowing, passing through the light and the dark, the fast and the slow, through long and short segments, as we move through all the seasons of life. We encountered twist and turns, unexpected moments, and encounters with other people as we walked our path. I was offered release, illumination, and deep insight about where I am headed on my own path currently and that I am entering a phase in my life where I am going to be sharing, creating, and doing more of what is true to my heart.

In the following workshop, Weam Namou talked about journaling and how we can use this as a writer. I have kept journals for nearly all my life, sometimes writing more during certain periods than others, and this is material that I can draw upon when I am writing my books. We talked about the benefits of journaling which includes physical and mental well-being. We talked about honoring our time, the balance of life, and how journaling can help us to transform our lives in all areas.

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Weam Namou presenting Take Your Writing into the World on Sunday morning at the Path of Consciousness Retreat

 

Stiff bodies and writer’s hands were then stretched out along with our minds as Sandy Naimou presented Writing for Yoga. Connecting in to the earth on our mats in a cool dark room as Sandy played singing bowls helped us to assimilate that day’s experiences while stretching our bodies gently. For those who were unable to get down to ground level, an alternate chair yoga experience was incorporated so that all were able to benefit.

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Sandy Naimou with one of her singing bowls, ready to facilitate Yoga for Writers at The Path of Consciousness Retreat
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Attendees eagerly awaiting the start of Yoga for Writing at The Path of Consciousness

We reconvened in the Chapel after dinner where Vince Anthony Pitre facilitated his Deep Insight Gong Meditation. First, he described his experience with hearing gongs for the first time in Hawaii and how it has magically transformed his life. As the deep blue-colored glass of the chapel windows grew darker with the sun setting behind the billowing clouds outside, the room darkened and softened as he began to introduce the gongs to us, each vibrating within its own frequency and range. With our eyes closed, we delved into a spiritual journey, our cellular structures vibrating as the gongs offered us transformation. A diverse sharing of experiences enriched the following moments as we listened to the encounters of those around us with open minds and hearts.

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The Gongs set up in the Chapel, ready for Vince Anthony Pitre’s Deep Insight Gong Meditation
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Vince Anthony Pitre, ready to facilitate the Deep Insight Gong Meditation at The Path of Consciousness Retreat

There were so many special moments – too many to share here. What was most important to me was connecting with people. It was beautiful to see how every workshop and presentation was interconnected and very valuable to my writing and spiritual path. Other activities over the weekend included a Recapitulation exercise on Friday night and an Awakening the Dreamer Symposium on Sunday. A Fire Ceremony was scheduled for Saturday night but a light rain prevented it from occurring so instead we met indoors. We shared nourishment and our observations from the day and how we could carry these insights forward together to make the world a better place. I know that when I left on Sunday afternoon that I felt like a different person than when I arrived. The powerful and transformative energies of our connection is palpable and I feel empowered and ready to create!

The retreat was designed with this in mind: “The spiritual and writing retreat will allow you to enhance your writing, personal, and business life with the help of various ancient, sacred, and creative teachings, including writing and storytelling.” Every moment embraced this philosophy as I came together with this group of people. Some of us strangers at the start, we all quickly connected with each other to create a cohesive group of souls that found great healing, joy, and support as we spent the weekend together.

I am so excited for our next conference and retreat – I knew in my heart that this event would be extraordinary and meaningful. Because it was created from the heart of all who contributed to its existence, it has the power to gain momentum and to continually touch more and more lives. Just as the flower of life extends outward, overlapping in layers, ever expanding like our great universe, gatherings like this are what will heal our world, allowing us to envision and create that which is benevolent and good and share it with others. I offer my gratitude to all who were a part of this event. Namaste.

This event took place on October 5 – 7, 2018. For more information about the Path of Consciousness visit https://thepathofconsciousness.com/ – I hope to see you there next year!

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Thinking Like a Mountain: Connecting to Gridwork

When I was nineteen years old I found a book called “Thinking Like a Mountain” and I truly loved that book. The internet had not quite arrived, so my options were different back then. My choices included brick-and-mortar bookstores, local and university libraries, esoteric shops, the occasional magazine from a far-away health food store, and specialty publications. This dictated my course of research and the level of access I had to new ideas and information.

Finding a gem of a book like “Thinking Like a Mountain” felt significant, relevant, and it was a relief because it offered me a connection in a world that was radically disconnected from its roots. I embodied the wisdom and joy of nature often, so I could easily put myself into the perspective of a lush mountain, a wise old tree, or a gliding snowy owl.

I connected with the land often. In my early twenties I would head out to my secret hiding space at the base of a gnarled old tree at the bank of a fast-moving river, intending to clear my energies and set aside sacred space, offering my positive intent to the universe in ceremony. I didn’t have a name for it, but it felt like it was in alignment with who I was. Little did I know I was doing gridwork.

Michigan Serenity – Awakening The Core

The advent of the internet has allowed my obsession with research to become far reaching, highly fine-tuned, and liberating. One thing always leads to another and this is the absolute beauty of evolution. My life evolved through a variety of periods, leading to a large variety of interests including ancient history, pre-history, esoteric knowledge, ancient wisdom, astronomy, astrology, physics, geometry, metaphysics, quantum physics, mythology, traditional arts, writing, art, music, animal sciences, geology, geography, gardening, and meteorology, to name a few.

When I was a young child, I connected to animals, not only in physical reality, but also in dreams and daydreams. I thought everyone could see my canine and woodland friends that were with me often. We especially loved exploring and playing outside together, talking to the trees and dancing in the rain, enjoying the rich scent of earth and the incredible joy found running through a field of wild and magical dandelions. As I began to grow up, I was told I had a good imagination and that no one else could see my friends. Slowly they disappeared as new activities and demands replaced them in “the real world”.

As I grew older I found deep connections to nature and the elemental world through other means. Whether digging into the fertile earth with my bare hands to tend a garden, gazing at twinkling stars, admiring glittery quartz in the sunshine, or flying on the back of jubilant horse across a shimmering green field in summer, I have always felt a deep reverence and love for nature.

Gaia and all her celestial companions have accompanied me in my dreams and visions, allowing me to visit and interact with numerous earthy landscapes and galactic locales. Some very spiritually significant experiences took place in dreams around the time of my early twenties, such as a dream in which I was in the wilderness in the Rocky Mountains at the banks of a flowing river. It was a glorious place, my canine companion at my side, calling in the wild animals. They arrived in pairs; fish, birds, bear, hawks, owls, caribou, elk, coyote, fox, eagles, crows, deer, moose, wolves, otters, beaver, skunk, horses, wild cats, and creatures of all types gathered around me, peaceful and in the spirit of full, loving cooperation to work together for a better world. Again, I had no idea I was doing grid work.

Life rolls forward, a dance of synchronicity, forever bringing me ever closer to that which lies deep within my heart. My love of sweet mother earth, my passion for ancient wisdom, and my love of science and metaphysics has moved me down a beautiful path which has culminated in my recognition that I have been doing gridwork all my life, and in past lives. My connection to energy, place, and intent have played a strong roll in my life.

Thinking Like a Mountain

About a year ago I came across an online video of a joyful woman, her eyes bright and full of life. She was smiling and laughing the most genuine laugh as she told us about her rich and meaningful experiences among the trees and mountains. She was traveling and talking about working with the energies of the earth. I was instantly riveted to this beautiful, easy, natural expression of service. I had met Katie IndiCrow.

A few months later I decided to take a beginning Gridwork class with Katie through IndiCrow Energetics. I learned a new language that helped me to describe how I had been interacting with energy and nature all those years. I developed innovative knowledge and techniques, finding a whole new level of connection as well as a new community to share with.

After the class ended I was thinking about taking the advanced gridwork class that Katie offered. I checked in with my higher self and immediately received an immediate and resounding “Yes! Do it!” It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was already an energy worker and Reiki Master but adding the advanced Gridwork to my skill set brought me to an entirely new level of awareness and ability. I am so grateful to have this connection.

This book that I am sharing here is called Connecting In: Powering Up Ourselves and the Grids! and it’s written by my teacher and friend, Katie IndiCrow. It explains the ancient craft of gridwork and how we can learn to align, connect, and power up the energetic network that supports earth and our existence. Through this process we assist in the process of embodying love and affecting the energetic connections, working towards a cooperative state of love, compassion, and gratitude.

Through the act of intentionally raising the vibration and reconnecting to the grids, we are assisting in supporting change and the transition of earth through ascension. Together we work in teams, utilizing our collective wisdom, skills, and positive intent.

Katie IndiCrow states “The idea of managing the earth’s energy system and coming together in ceremony or around alignments is something that many people remember. The feeling they get the first time they act as an ascension anchor is familiar, loving, and close! This is because there have been times in our history where gathering at various sites and nodal points and/or coming together in collective action has been key to our survival.”

As a gridworker, I have grown a great deal, expanding into a more empowered version of my self. Through this daily practice I connect with life energy and I embody love and compassion. There are still life challenges, of course, but overall life has become “way nicer and more friendly” as Katie might say.

I invite you to connect to the energy of nature and feel how you connect with it. Katie is an advanced Gridwork teacher and has many valuable offerings. I also teach workshops and classes about aspects that are a part of gridwork.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions, or want to learn more. I am so excited to hear about how you connected to what I have written here and how it relates to your own experiences.

In love and light,

Sonya

Lake Michigan Sunset – Awakening The Core

Moving Out of Negativity and Into Positive Transformation with the Four Agreements

There are times where we find ourselves to be self-critical or judgmental of others. There may be something that we view as negative and we spend time giving our energy away while ruminating about it.

We may take situations personally and feel offended by the actions or words of others. Or we may misunderstand an agreement and find ourselves assuming something which is inaccurate. Or perhaps we are the one who was not clearly communicating.

We can also be afraid to be ourselves, afraid of not being perfect and of vulnerability. We try to create an image of perfection to please others but this fails us because we are not being true to ourselves. When we feel we are not perfect enough, then we may feel self rejection.

We make so many agreements with ourselves. Perhaps “I am not any good at…” or “I always…” or  “I am a failure at…” or “I am better than anyone else at …” or “I cannot…” or “I should…”. The repetitive mantras we tell ourselves can often be negative. A better mantra might be something more like “I am loving when I…”, “I am capable when…”, “I am kind…”, or “I am honest…”. What would you rather reinforce? What kind of agreements should you be making?

So many difficult situations arise when we shift into old programmed behaviors that are less than loving and kind. There is much conditioning that goes into the thoughts and ideas we have about ourselves, others, and our world. By changing our agreements, we open up to new and improved outcomes.

We can break ourselves from negativity if we become aware of it and put in the work to create change. This in turn helps us to move from a toxic state into a more positive state. Everyone is challenged at one time or another. We are not perfect and that is what makes us so beautiful as humans because we have so many situations presented to us that allow us to grow.

We can find some enlightening concepts in a book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, which “reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needles suffering.” The agreements are a code of conduct that allow us to transform our lives, increase freedom, happiness, and love.

The Four Agreements Offer Us Freedom, True Happiness, and Love

I read this book over ten years ago when I was working in a harsh environment where I took difficult phone calls for a company. It was this book that helped me to see that the negative comments said to me over the phone were not about me at all, but rather they reflected the customer’s perceptions surrounding their own individual circumstances. Instead of taking their words personally, I learned to listen to the story behind their words to determine what was important to them so that I could offer them genuine understanding and the best assistance possible.

Just recently I found myself having a number of life situations that felt less than desirable. Before taking any action or making any judgement about myself or others, I decided to take time to reflect on what happened and how it could have gone better. It’s easy to make a quick judgement and point fingers, but ultimately I needed to observe the situation, figure out where I needed to improve, and to not condemn anyone involved (including myself). Forgiveness is important as well as maintaining a healthy and loving attitude. Even when we make mistakes, we can still adopt the principles behind the Four Agreements to move forward. We can create positive and loving interactions with both ourselves and others.

 Be Impeccable with Your Word

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

If you are not sure of something, ask questions, clarify, and reach out for more information. Say what you mean. This doesn’t mean to be unfiltered. Kindness and honesty are important. Don’t wander off with your words, saying something that sort of kind of means what you want to say but not exactly. Passive aggressive communication is not the best way for us to help others understand our concerns and intent. Words (and tone) are important, and it is critical that we are clear.

Be Impeccable With Your Word

Say what you think and speak your truth without blurting. Avoid using words that negatively impact yourself or gossip about others. When we speak an untruth about others, there is no benefit or positive flow. It might feel good at the moment to vent, share, or express yourself, but the aftermath of that not being impeccable is then out there forever. This creates a potentially toxic flow of energy. And toxicity requires healing and resolution.

Embellishing a statement or expanding into an area of half-truths to make a point is also lacking in impeccability. Are you using a casual bunch of words or one well said word? Also, be aware of your voice – is it loud, forceful, high pitched, or demanding? Is it irritated, intolerant, or unkind? Or perhaps emotional, whining, or freaked out? Making a conscious choice to speak evenly and slowly with intent and truth, when you are ready, is an opportunity to have others listen because they respect you more when there isn’t an emotional charge. People will listen to and respect words that have been well thought out delivered in a calm voice.

Think before you speak, make sure you are communicating clearly, and reach out for understanding in a loving and truthful manner. This may require follow up or asking questions to make sure both parties are clear about intent and expectations. Most importantly, strive to always act and communicate with integrity, truth, and loving intent.

Don’t Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

Nothing that someone else does is because of you. Everything everyone does is because of them, their dream, their vision, their interpretations, and projections. What other people do and say is their projection of reality. When we become immune to the opinions and actions of others, there is nothing to take personally. This negates suffering because no one can make us feel sad, angry, or bad. We choose how we feel. Always. If we choose to base our feelings on other’s behaviors, we are allowing it.

We ultimately make the choice as to what belongs to us or not. We do not own other people’s projections of reality or behaviors and we do not need to make them our own, unless we choose to. We always have this choice.

So if something someone is doing is upsetting to you, remember that you don’t have to own that. You don’t have to take that on. Take that moment to stop and remind yourself that you get to choose moving forward how you feel and what you want to think about. It takes practice but this is one of the best things you could ever consciously work on.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

We all do it. A lightning-fast judgement is easy to come by and it’s challenging to find freedom in this way of operating. We must find the courage to ask questions and to express what we truly want. Sometimes we don’t want to step on other’s toes or bother them so we don’t ask for what we want. We are all guilty of this because we don’t want to ask questions. We are often afraid to ask questions because we don’t want to feel less than.

We are more respected when we do ask questions. Look deep for the courage to ask the questions that need to be asked. When someone misunderstands you, it is not them, it is us because we have chosen not to be articulate enough. When there is a misunderstanding, you are a co-creator, not the person who didn’t hear you clearly. This means you didn’t speak clearly or articulate clearly. If we can communicate clearly as we are possibly able to, we will have less drama and sadness.

Being truly willing to step out and ask questions instead of assuming will powerfully evolve ourselves from where we are to where we want to be. This agreement is difficult because we are afraid of appearing less than brilliant, perfect, powerful, or whole. The reality is that everyone can engage and freeing ourselves of assumptions is truly empowering

Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.

We are always operating from our own level of consciousness. When you can evolve your level of consciousness and work forward from that point, you are striving to do your best. When we are sick, weak, or having difficulty, we are coming from a different level of consciousness. We need to accept where we are at and not judge ourselves so harshly. Would you treat a friend like that? If not, then you are likely not being a good friend to yourself either. It’s okay if we did something stupid, said something we didn’t mean, made a mistake or were not clear… but this leaves a toxic residue out there if left unresolved.

If we can turn it around and understand that we were not paying full attention or that we did or said something wrong, we can understand that we were doing our best at that moment, kindly offer acceptance to ourselves, request forgiveness from others, and eliminate regret. If we are coming from our best self at our personal highest level of consciousness, we can negate that self-criticism and regret. Do not get mired in self judgement.

Always Do Your Best

Your Invitation

The Four Agreements are something that we can integrate into our daily life and if everyone practiced these, it would change the world. It takes time to integrate these practices into our lives, not just a day. We have decades of conditioned behaviors to contend with when we start and even with practice, no one is ever a hundred percent.

I invite you to find ways to integrate these practices into your daily life and experience the power and transformation they offer. You can focus on one agreement each day, for example, and find inventive and creative ways to implement it. Over time you can find many opportunities to usher in positive energy into your life through use of the agreements. Which one will you start with?

Love and Light,

Sonya

Registration opens for the Awakening Spirit 1.1 Workshop Series

Awakening Spirit 1.1 Workshop Series

Each of us has a unique story and path that we travel. How we live our stories defines who we are. In the Awakening Spirit 1.1 Workshop we will explore spiritual concepts and practices that enable you to create meaning and purpose in your life over the course of four weeks. By becoming your own divinely guided authority, you will learn to set boundaries, clear out that which no longer serves you, and learn to adapt techniques that will help you move forward on your unique path.

We will explore topics such as mindfulness, setting intentions, understanding intuition, implementing boundaries and self-care, the power of visualization, recognizing synchronicity and divine guidance, engaging energy management and coping skills, understanding dreams, discovering community, finding courage and realizing joyful creativity. Also, things like astrology, angels, karma, tarot, chakras and past lives will come up as well. There is a large amount of spiritual content in the world and being able to discern what speaks to your soul is important so that you can best serve yourself.

By getting in touch with your inner self you can better connect with the world around you and find your own path. Coming into alignment strengthens your physical self through healing, your mental self through control, and your spiritual self through awakening that which is already within you.

This workshop is a safe and fun way to explore spirituality in a private group environment in the privacy of your own space. This course will consist of four weeks of materials that are distributed via email and in a private online Facebook forum where we discuss materials, ask questions, and share with our classmates. The workshop includes a private 30-minute session with me, Sonya, and will take place on Zoom and will be scheduled in advance.

Where: in the comfort of your own private space

Exchange $111.00 USD

When: We begin on Tuesday, October 24th and continue for four weeks until Tuesday, November 21st.

To register: please contact me, Sonya Julie at AwakeningTheCore@gmail.com . Spaces are limited.