It is always great to hear or read about people who’s healing came about as a result of a process of spiritual awakening, especially in cases where current medical practice does not provide any solution. These type of stories are truly inspiring because they remind us of our innate ability to change our destiny and overcome even the most difficult of challenges in our lives.
We are so moved by the miraculous process of healing that in most cases we tend to see the disease as the obstacle that was overcome and not as the “gift” that opened the doors for us to reconnect with our divine self and transform our lives beyond any previous expectations.
Laura Mayer’s book, Unlocking the Invisible Child: A Journey from Heartbreak to Bliss, is a perfect example of how a mysterious, crippling and fatal disease can lead to one of the most remarkable journeys of transformation. Her story is a reminder of how love has the power to heal anything.
SuperConsciousness spoke with Laura Mayer about her book, the cathartic process it unfolded while writing it, and how opening up to share her story led to an even deeper level of healing.
SuperConsciousness: For those who are not already familiar with your story, can you tell us what was the disease you had, what caused it and what were its manifestations?
Laura Mayer: I was diagnosed when I was 14 with Anterior Horn Cell Disease, a progressive degenerative neurological disease located in the gray matter of the spinal cord. I was told the disease would spread throughout my body. The cause of the disease, the etiology, nobody knows. They thought maybe it was a virus but like most diseases they do not know. The symptoms began with tingling, numbness and my inability to fully open my left pinky. Within months the sensations spread, first on the left side and then on the right side. Symptoms manifested and included muscle atrophy, tingling, numbness, and fasciculation (muscle twitching.)
The story began when my father and I went to NYC to see his friend who was a radiologist to determine what was going on. The next visit was with a neurologist. That started a series of diagnostic tests to find the cause of my symptoms. When I was 15 I had three surgeries because the doctors thought at first it was a brachial plexus injury. So they removed the scalene muscle on the right side and shortly after the first rib on either side, thinking maybe pressure on the nerve was causing the tingling, but that wasn’t what it was.
At the age of 21, I began having symptoms in my right toe so my neurologist suggested I visit with a specialist in Anterior Horn Cell Disease at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and he basically said after his examination I'd be in a wheelchair at 25 and would die by 40 because my respiratory muscles would give out. That was the future I had to look forward to. Meanwhile, I'm in college at NYU studying occupational therapy, which is all about your hands and now, in retrospect, it makes so much sense.
SC: Was your professional career what kept you going during those years when the disease was manifesting most strongly?
LM: The disease manifested in my hands, but in high school I noticed that there were a lot of things I could not do. The doctors were very careful with me. They didn’t want me to do any physical activities where I might fall on my hands and injure them more. I wasn't allowed to go take gym class, ski, ride a bike, play tennis or engage in other activities my friends were involved in which made me feel even more different. When I applied to college for Occupational Therapy, I knew it would be physically challenging. During my interview I was asked about my hands and I told the interviewer I didn’t know how my disease would interfere but I knew I had to be honest and upfront about my illness. Tony’s reply was a gift. He said, "You could make it an asset or a liability. It's your choice," which was one of the greatest things I ever heard in my life.
After graduation I practiced OT in the field of psychiatry so I wouldn’t have to do the physical tasks involved working in physical rehab like manual muscle testing. The reality was I did lots of fine motor activities because Occupational Therapy uses activities to promote functioning. It was easy but I did it learning the art of compensating. In retrospect, I went into a field, a practice, where the theoretical basis is on helping others to function at their highest level. I went into a field of study that mirrored exactly what I would need for myself. It was perfect.
SC: Now that you are on the other side and have gone through an extraordinary healing process, what do you perceive was the root cause of your disease?
LM: Through all my healing work the consistent message I received from so many healers and readers, was that my fingers, my hands, shut down because of the lack of support or unconditional love I received from my family environment. I always felt a sense of loneliness and lack of acceptance as a child. I was a sensitive, heart-centered child, as I am as an adult, and that was not received or understood. There was a sadness that permeated my soul.
I just wanted to be loved and all I wanted was to love. My parents were quite detached and that wasn’t who they were. This whole piece that came out of my readings encouraged me to believe in myself. In one of my readings, the woman went into detail about my past lives that suggested I had been a crippled child in many, many lifetimes, and this lifetime was my lifetime to heal. She tied together the physical component and the fact that it was also wrapped around conditional and unconditional love. That made so much sense to me.
Every reading and healing I engaged in confirmed over and over that I would heal completely. I did many different forms of energy healing from vibrational medicine, esoteric energy work, iridology, herbal supplements, shamanic and kabbalistic healing. I did it all because each session encouraged me to trust in the knowing and believe I could heal. I also engaged in deep inner child work on an energetic level that was a critical piece to my overall healing and transformation.
In retrospect, I really do feel that as a child I wasn't fully seen for who I was. This does not mean that my parents didn’t love me, they just couldn’t love me the way I needed to be loved.
I will never forget at 9 years old, I said out loud I wanted to be in the hospital because if I was in the hospital maybe The Beatles would come and visit me and somebody would love me. Four years later I'm in the hospital but The Beatles never came. The fact that I even put that out to the Universe, today in my knowing, is so significant, that I was already feeling that. I just wanted someone to love me, it's pretty profound at 9 years old.
In retrospect I probably would have joined a commune, anything, so that I could feel part of a group, accepted. I remember saying I'm going to be a groupie. I just wanted to be included. I think my disease, the dis-ease — I don’t want to claim it anymore — gave me the courage to really fight for my life. I think this is all part of the program in this lifetime, absolutely.
All those healers and readings gave me the courage to believe that I could heal, and so I went to town with it, I did everything that I possibly could. I would chant every morning, and I would visualize my fingers just opening. I visualized them straightening up, opening, using them, holding things normally. I pictured them normal. I didn’t see anything for about a year and a half, I think, but I've watched myself just completely open over the last five years, and each step of the way it just led me to believe more and more, until I knew that I had a right to be here, healthy and strong.
SC: In your book you speak about the difference between cure and healing. How are they different to you?
LM: I don’t know that I believe in cures, and cures are something that we look for in the medical model. Healing for me is a real inside out cellular level cleaning out. Healing is from the inside out. It's deep. It doesn’t come on the surface, and it doesn’t come from someone else. It doesn’t come outside of you. It's really you doing the excavation. It's you cleaning out on the cellular level. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have people that help us through that process, obviously, but you're doing the work. It's not a tumor that can be removed.
SC: What led you to the point where mainstream medicine was no longer an option?
LM: I had exhausted the medical field. I had 15 reconstructive tendon transfers and bone fusions, just so that I could hold a piece of paper, a fork or hold my pen. By the time I was 43, my hand surgeon said, "There's nothing else we can do. You don’t have any more tendons to transfer." They would take a tendon from the upper part of my arm and thread it into my hands, my fingers. He said, "If you don’t stop working as an OT, then you won't have hands at 50. Something has to give here." So, that was it. That was a huge crisis for me, because I had kids, and I had to be functional, and I knew I was losing ground. This is when I went through what the mystics call “the dark night of the soul.” That's when I had a choice to make. Was I to live or die. I didn’t know I had options, I knew nothing about spirituality. I grew up in a very clinical family. Here I was involved in the medical world as an occupational therapist. I didn’t know there was anything else out there, to be honest, and it wasn’t until I was forced to stop working that I opened to the spiritual world. Actually, it was when my Rabbi asked me to teach, religion. I thought that was crazy because I knew nothing about Jewish history. Why are you asking me?" No one says no to the Rabbi so I started teaching and that's when I opened and became involved in the ancient wisdom of Judaism that was all based on joy and love, honor and truth, as well as opened to the world of Kabbalah.
I became very involved with Jewish renewal and healing and a key moment for me was when I was sitting in one of my meditation retreats. I did silent meditation retreats at a center called Elat Chayyim in upstate NY. As I was listening to the story of Jacob’s ladder, chanting, wrapped in my talit (prayer shawl) I suddenly realized, "My spine is Jacob's ladder, and this disease is in the very core of me, the foundational structure of me. What is the learning here?" That was the beginning of my turning things around, and saying, "I want to look at this as something positive. I need too; I'm fading away. There has to be something," and that’s when I began to question everything. I asked myself, “What is it that I'm wrestling with," and that was really the grand opening for me to start seeing things differently.
There had been no changes yet in my physical makeup, but I started to feel a sense of emotional calmness when I was involved in a spiritual community. I began to read everything I could. I started doing shamanic healing and Kabbalistic healing, and exploring alternative healing methodologies. I was introduced to the metaphysical world when I was 50, and that was a life shifter for me. It was like a chain effect, one angel after another, just showed up, as it always does, when you open to the Universe and listen, listen, listen. It was at that time that a healer suggested I have a reading with a medical intuitive, Shaman, PhD clinical psychologist from NYU, who lives in Colorado.
That felt right and I was glad. She bridged the clinical and spiritual, which made me feel safer I guess. We did a three-hour session on the phone. I felt her energy as if she was standing next to me, and she read me as if I had given her an autobiography and an MRI. And at the end of it all she said, "You will completely heal, and you're a master teacher." And I'm thinking, "I'm not a teacher; I'm an Occupational Therapist." I knew nothing — I get it today — and I listened. At that moment I knew I had a choice, and a couple of hours later I said, "I'm done. Either I heal or I'm out of here." That was the beginning of my transformation.
She had given me the opportunity to make a choice, and from that day forward healer after healer just showed up at my door. I was open to the world of metaphysics, and I trusted it. For a woman that trusted nothing, I trusted it. I had to. I was broken. Everything about me was broken, including my Spirit. I was tired.
SC: One of the things about your story is that it gives us a different perspective on miraculous healing. When we hear the word miracle, or miraculous, we tend to think of something almost immediate, but your story is different. Perhaps it is more realistic about the process of healing, without taking away its miraculousness. From the moment you touched bottom and decided to change, do something different, how long did it take for you to see the first physical changes?
LM: Within the first year I started to witness my fingers one at a time just slowly opening. I remember it was February of '06, so I started in May of '05, and I’m at my sister's house doing a Brian Weiss meditation. I'm lying there on top of the bed doing this, and it was so bizarre because I felt my fingers were perfectly normal. My thumbs were flexed, because I can't flex them, and it was so freaky. I got up and I was going to do something, and all of a sudden I'm moving my thumb, and I screamed at the top of my lungs to my sister, "Oh my God, I'm moving my thumb." It was like, "Oh my God." I hadn't moved my thumb since I was 25 years old, and it was like nothing was going to stop me.
I chanted every morning, I did visualizations all the time, I believed the readings and healings. I believed them when I didn’t quite believe me yet. People would say, "My God, why are you getting so many readings and healings? You keep hearing the same stuff." Well, I needed to. They were feeding me in a way that I never was fed, and I needed something way bigger than me to believe in at the time.
It wasn’t easy, it was my work to do on a daily basis. For me it didn’t happen in one moment. God bless those people who heal overnight, or in a heartbeat, God bless them. It certainly didn’t happen to me. I guess for me healing is a lifetime journey, and I'm still healing. I'll always be healing, and I never want to say I'm done healing, because I'm not. The difference is today I don’t need my body to be any different. My hands are not 100 percent, the muscles haven't grown back totally, although I do expect that they'll continue to heal, but I have gotten to a place where I love myself enough, I love myself, and that’s the healing of the heart.
It took me probably two years into the process when, “bingo,” the light went off. It's not about healing my hands. I thought it was all about healing my hands. All I wanted to do was be normal for one day in my life. I wanted to know what it meant to be normal, to be able to open something, hold something, lift something, oh my God, just do anything that a normal person could do and not be embarrassed by everything I did. When I realized that healing comes from my heart, everything shifted. So what I say is, “When I opened my heart, my hands opened.”
SC: How do you know when you have fully owned an attitude that causes a disease?
LM: That's beautifully said, and what comes to me is that wisdom is awareness. Healing is about awareness. Wisdom is a tremendous gift we give ourselves when we get out of the way. I think for me it is that level of awareness. It's the higher consciousness.
What I could honestly say is that when something happens, I ask myself, "What is it? What's triggering me, and what's the learning?" I see everything as a learning opportunity without judgment whether it is good or bad, right or wrong. I don’t sit in that duality anymore. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t get sad. I do get sad sometimes. I'm a normal human being, but I transcended anger and the why me. I feel so blessed that I said yes to the opportunity to heal. And I believe that we all have that power within us to say, "Yes."
It’s not going to happen just because we want it. We have to really say yes, and we have to do the “steppings” to get there. It's not just going to come to us, and it's hard work, if we want to call it work. It's a 24/7 job to be conscious and to be aware.
So how do I know? I think the piece about not getting angry is huge for me and that I'm always putting it back on me. It means that you are always the source of everything that happens to you, and it's your choice to accept it or not. When you sit from the inside out, and you know that it is your responsibility, you see things very differently, and you stop blaming.
SC: Towards the end of the book you say that writing it was a big part of your healing process. Did you know that writing the book was a part of your healing process when you decided to do so?
LM: Oh, absolutely not.
SC: Why do you see that it helped you and would you recommend that we all write our story?
LM: I'm somebody who has always journaled. I attempted to write the book in 2006, after a couple of readings when it was said to me, "You need to tell your story, how you took the energetics and made it work for you. You need to share that story because others will heal from that." I remember sitting there and trying to type it away on the computer, and it was totally intellectualized. So I put it down.
When I wrote my book I had done five years of healing already and I was well on the path. So here I am writing the three-year-old situation with the dog, writing what it was like to be sitting in that hospital bed, and I am crying my eyes out. I am on the floor in a fetal position crying my eyes out, and I thought, "Wow, it's still there," and I really saw that was the last cathartic moment for me of releasing it. I think that's why I see the book as a healing tool. It was a cathartic experience, as journaling is.
Will I tell people to write their book? Writing the book was my way of sharing my healing to inspire others to heal as I have. I truly believe if I can heal, anyone can. If others are helped by the cathartic experience of writing and have a story to share that will help others on their healing path, I say, go for it. I knew I had to. It was a process like everything else. It was my opportunity to sit in my truth.
That's why I healed. I was in my truth about everything, and I was no longer hiding in anyway, and when we sit in that level of truth, that's where the healing begins. I don’t know that I would have healed so completely if I wasn't so honest. The beauty of the book is that I could not have written a book if I was angry. I had to transcend the anger first, and then I could look at it objectively. I could look at the learning. I could look at the incredible gift the disease gave me. Before that, I could never have done it. That was very critical in the timing of my writing the book. I had healed enough that I was ready then to put out the truth.
I believe healing is on an energetic level. You have to get right into the source energy of all of it, and that's what I was doing. When I read the book now it's hard for me to believe it's me. I am such a different person now. I definitely have empathy for that person, but it's a different level of feeling. I think that was really the final piece for me.
SC: From the title of the book, why did you call it The Invisible Child? Who is the invisible child?
LM: The invisible child is the child who is locked up inside because we don’t feel fully seen, fully heard and fully present. They don’t feel welcomed, they don’t feel acknowledged, so they become invisible. They hide away, and they don’t show up in their fullness because somewhere, somehow, the environment, their family, whatever it is, the conditioning around, they say, "Uh-uh. That's not okay for us." So they hide away; they become invisible.
For me it’s about feeling safe to show up in your authentic self. So many people don’t feel safe, they put up a barrier, a wall, and they put up a façade. They leave their authentic self behind because they don’t believe they're seen for that, and that goes right to my heart.
SC: How can we as parents prevent from doing that to our children?
LM: The greatest gift you can give your child is to fully see them for who they are, not what you want them to be. Be open to their individuality. If and when you feel empowered, and when you're fully in alignment with yourself, you will only want that for your child, even if it doesn’t fit into the old paradigm box.
What I would say to these parents is, "Look through the eyes of your child. What does your child see," and that's one of the exercises in the book. "What does the world look like through your child's eyes? What does this situation look like through your child's eyes? It may be a very different perspective than where you're coming from," but what a wonderful experience to see through their eyes, and then hold your wisdom and awareness. You can bet if you see through their eyes you will approach the situation differently. You'll be approaching it with your heart, rather than your immediate response, because this is the way it has to be done.
SC: Is there something else you would like to say to our readers?
LM: I think what's most important is what I call the K.O.R. program. Knowing, Opening and Releasing. It's a level of knowing that you deserve to be here, opening to the unforeseen forces around you. It's opening to everything even if you don’t know what the outcome will be. It’s a higher level of trust that there's something bigger than you. And it’s about releasing past drama and trauma that keep you stuck and unfulfilled. When you relinquish childhood wounds you free yourself to show up in the world the way you desire too. When you know that you are worthy, and you love yourself enough, you become who you are, not what other people want you to be, not what other people see you as. You step outside the box you have created and become the person you desire. It takes courage and tenacity to step outside the role. I stepped away from that role, and said, "I want more, or I don’t need to be here," and that's such a declaration to yourself and the Universe.
Be careful what you ask for, and be ready to do the work once you put it out there. It's all about grace, gratitude, and forgiveness.
My wish is that my story of healing and transformation gives you the courage to trust that you too can heal from whatever is keeping you from living your heart’s desire and soul purpose.
For more information about Laura Mayer and her workshops visit:
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