Excerpt from When Did You Die? 8 Steps to Stop Dying Every Day and Start Waking Up by Temple Hayes, a how-to guide for those individuals looking to shine their light fully within the world, in both an emotional and spiritual sense. 

When I heard the voice at age five that told me I was going to bring a message to the world, I asked the Creator, “What does that mean?” I have spent many years of my life pondering what it meant and longing to understand the meaning of the message I was to deliver.

One day I understood. I was here to teach people about life. I had lived and died many times in this lifetime, so I could speak from my experiences. I had been born a radiant and phenomenal human being, and my light had faded, so I would be able to use these experiences to see where many other people’s lights had faded.

Many people have said throughout my lifetime that I was so fortunate to receive this message at an early age. That might be true if my parents had been elders of a tribe, leaders of a mystery school, or sages. But where I lived and I grew up, if you tell people you’ve heard a voice, they might have put you away. There were moments when I was actually concerned that they would.

I always asked questions and irritated a lot of people because I didn’t understand why we did certain things or believed in certain dogmatic ideas. I asked my mother many times in my early years if I was adopted because I just felt so unique and different from the rest of my family. By the time I was 40 I was still asking, and she still told me no.

In the early years of my life I realized I could see the energy of people and how they weren’t connected, not only to one another but also to themselves. I could always sense whether they were telling the truth or lying. I could tell whether they were actually living or really just dying while they were living. I was so shocked as a child to witness how many people did not think for themselves, how many people were not happy, and how many people were just plain old—not in age, but in their way of being, long before their time.

They were dying. Their life force was barely present, and at times they looked ashen and gray. Have you ever seen the way a person looks in the last phase of cancer, just before dying, or right after having a heart attack? This is the way a lot of people in our society look energetically, and they haven’t had a life-threatening condition. They have, however, had a condition that’s threatening their lives: a condition called “never living.” Their light is fading because their bulb is the wrong wattage; it wasn’t designed to be so small but was destined to be much brighter.

In my environment as a child I could also feel the energy and anxiety of animals. We had cows, goats, horses, cats and dogs in my community. I never knew why I could feel or sense what they were thinking or feeling. For years people told me that animals did not have feelings, but I knew they were wrong. My response was always “If animals do not have feelings, then why do they tremble and why do they run? If animals do not have feelings, then why do they cry or whimper or have sad eyes?” That animals do not have feelings is just a lame excuse that humanity has told itself for years, and one day we will have to apologize to them for being oblivious to what they really are.

I recall a story told to me by my ministerial colleague about her daughter’s dog named Cooper. Cooper was the family dog, a Labrador retriever, who deeply loved his yellow tennis ball. Everyone through the years knew this. Cooper would not give up his ball.

When the family cat became ill and died they decided to bury her in the backyard. They dug a deep hole and right after they put the cat into the space, Cooper dropped his ball and left it in the grave.

After I had become a practicing shaman, I was asked to do a soul retrieval on a horse. Soul retrieval is a process for healing and supporting energy in a person or an animal who has suffered trauma, tragedy, or loss and is emotionally fragmented as a result. Soul retrieval restores, renews and invigorates the individual or life.

This horse was under two years old, and no matter how much the new owners followed the instructions in their horse manual, they could not get the horse to move forward with a steady gait. They would watch her day after day, hesitating to move forward. I agreed to work with her, and I asked to be the only one in her stable.

I walked up to this beautiful horse and told her I was sorry that no one had understood her. I told her that this was the day her life was going to change and that now she could feel safe and validated. As I spoke to her, tears ran from her eyes. With animals as with people, if you attempt to “fix” them without their permission, your chances of success are slim to none.

I laid my hand on her back, and I could see the time of her birth. I could see that she had been a breech birth, that she had been forced out too quickly from her mother, and that it had emotionally affected her. I saw how rather than give her time to heal, her owners at the time had whipped her in the face time and time again to force her to move forward. She had been beaten many times, and she had scars between her eyes. I asked her to forgive us for our ignorance. I assured her that the situation was different now and she could move forward in her life. After this, the new owners felt they would no longer have trouble getting her to move forward. She was energized and felt safe to trust those around her.

I was so elated to be part of such an awakening and renewal of life that I missed the other part of the message until I told my shaman teacher about it. She reminded me that I was a breech birth, that my mother had been in labour 48 hours. I, too, had had a forced birth, and in my rebirth I had witnessed how my shoulder was hurt from the force. And I had been beaten many times for my fear of moving forward, not physically but emotionally.

We all need to be seen, validated and recognized. We need to step back into our innate gifts to inwardly listen to all living things.

I am so grateful that I have lived long enough to finally experience that some people actually believe me now. I have also lived long enough to realize that it does not matter if, because of their ignorance, some people cannot believe me. I know that all living things should have inalienable rights and the freedom to live as they are innately destined. I know that we can no longer destroy nature by taking innocent lives. I know that animals are necessary to our development and that they have feelings and emotions. I know this is true. The children of the 21st century innately know this, and they will make a difference in how we treat animal life as long as we do not train their young brains and hearts to believe otherwise.

As I have validated and forgiven myself over the years for taking my life for granted, my gifts are awake again. I had closed these gifts off for many years, and I am so grateful that they have started to come back into my energy field again. Like many of you, I was born a healer, but first I had to die so I could be born again, heal myself and claim my gifts as a healer.

In my work of healing people and animals, I find that working with animals and children is easier than working with adults, for children and animals are more receptive and do not seek to defend their positions of reality as adults do. Adults will defend their beliefs, habits and philosophies even though their lives aren’t working. I know because I was one of them for a long time, until I discovered my inner spiritual awakening.

We all have the gifts to connect to other living things. We all have the ability to be part of changing someone’s world by inner listening and outward validation, yet it requires us to be coming from a trained mind and an open heart.

How do we come from an open heart?

Do you remember being a little kid and dancing to the song “The Hokey Pokey,” putting different parts of yourself into it and then being asked to “put your whole self in”? Remember how good it felt to shake your body and turn around? You were present, alive, and awake! Isn’t that what life is all about?

Kids dancing - Put your whole self in

You put your whole self in! This really is what life is all about, but why do so few of us put our whole selves in? Most of us in Western culture are not treated as whole and honoured from the moment we are born. We are treated like little people with something missing. In certain Eastern traditions, children like myself would have been identified, recognized and sent to the mystery schools, but in our culture bright children are sent to schools that are themselves a mystery to us, for our educational system does not address our innate and natural gifts. Instead it fills us with knowledge, based on the premise that we’re getting something that is missing. We act out or overachieve, for we are not being nurtured and fed in the place where we are already whole. We start out in life as a great big question mark and graduate from school with a degree and a great big period at the end: “Because I said so—period!” “Don’t ask any more questions; just do what the boss says—period!” “Just take the pills and do as I say—period!”

We try to be successful according to the textbook rather than following our own inner wisdom and sacred texts.

I’ve always resonated with these words of Carl Jung, stated in Memories, Dreams, and Reflections:

My life often seemed to me like a story that has no beginning and no end. I had the feeling that I was a historical fragment, an excerpt for which the preceding and succeeding text was missing. I could well imagine that I might have lived in former centuries and there encountered questions I was not yet able to answer; that I had been born again because I had not fulfilled the task given to me.

I have been doing christening ceremonies for the past twenty-three years, and each time I invite everyone from the immediate “village,” who are there to support the child to come into a circle. I always ask, “What do you wish and pray for with this child?”

The answers come quickly: to live his dreams, to have self-esteem, to believe in herself, to have faith, to feel connected and loved. And so I tell them the following: Then you have to be what you have wished for. This child will mirror you, so if you live in fear, he will live in fear. If you live in lack, she will live in lack. If you are numb, he will be numb. If you pretend to be something you are not, she will pretend to be something she is not. If you doubt the Universe, he will doubt the Universe. If you do not connect with your Creator, she will not feel free to be created. If you teach him that life is designed to be dying while you are living, he will begin to die while he is living. If you are disconnected and drained, then she will be disconnected and drained.

If you live impassioned and energized, then he will live impassioned and energized. If you believe and practice being original, then she will believe and respect being original. If you learn from your lessons when you make a mistake, then he will learn it is OK to make a mistake and not believe that he is a mistake. If you show your light rather than a lamp that is broken, then she will shine her light as a lamp to the world.

When we live from a place of wholeness, then we are not experiencing life through the eyes of lack. Therefore, we can give freely of our time, our talent and our love, for we know that the more we give, the more we will have to give. When we live from a place of wholeness, then others will want to mirror our vibrancy of life. We are forever young. We are difference makers. We are energized.

I can remember as a teenager waiting all summer to return to school in the fall to see whether someone I had a crush on liked me. As we get older, we realize the value of time and become clear about our intentions, and we want to know right away, “Do you like me or not?” Is this something into which we put our whole selves or not? Many people are living life with the brakes on; they are living life in reserve. I have heard many people I have counselled through the years say, “Well, I like him [or her], but I’m not going to tell or show him [or her] until I see what he [or she] does first.”

When we’re holding back to see what someone else is going to bring forward, we will never be able to create an authentic relationship. As long as we hold back, we will always attract people into our lives who hold back. My clients would say to me, “Well, Temple, I do not want to get hurt.” So I would tell them, “That’s right, you would rather hurt yourself by not being you.”

When you are not you, you hurt yourself and you die a little. If you hold back and do not give of yourself because you’re trying to save your heart, then that’s the type of man or woman you will always attract—people who do not put their whole selves in and who do not come from the heart. They will never see you and love you from an open heart because you’re choosing people who are holding back the same way you are. We’re here to be ourselves and put our whole selves in. If you are truly you, then you will let people be and stay in your life; you won’t allow them to “let” you not be yourself. Here’s the true formula to seeing whether a person is meant to be your life love: Put him or her in a room with children and pets. If the children and the pets like the person, you are good to go. If they do not, run!

People often hold back from pursuing their dreams because somewhere along the way they have been disappointed or rejected. When you stop pursuing your dreams and who you’re meant to be, you’re dying a little. When you stop pursuing your dreams, can you not see that you’re disappointing and rejecting yourself?

Think about the song “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, artists such as the Beatles, or the book series Chicken Soup for the Soul, which later became a must-have for enlightenment. These are three examples of how early rejection or an initial lack of success did not stop people from pursuing their dreams but rather prompted them to put their whole selves in.

It is essential that we put our whole selves in.

In life, we always get what we bring. So the question (“quest I on”) becomes: What am I bringing to the experience?

I have also known a number of people who will spare themselves from getting another pet or another spouse because they can’t bear losing them and going through the pain of loss again. These people are not putting their whole selves in; I have never met a person with this philosophy who isn’t old long before his or her time. Remember, aging is natural, whereas being old is not. We are all created on the physical plane to age, yet being old is a frame of mind and not a spiritual truth. Individuals who are awake and love life are ageless spirits. Love is an energy that cannot be stored or not shared because of what may or may not happen. As Bob Dylan said, “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

In the magical words of the “The Hokey Pokey,” you put yourself in and you turn yourself around, but this doesn’t mean that you have to turn yourself around first. The song does not tell you to “do the Hokey Pokey” after you turn yourself around” or to “turn yourself around and then do the Hokey Pokey.” Most people delay the good in their lives, waiting until something is fixed, mended, or corrected, and only then will they put their whole selves in. From experience I can tell you that it rarely happens that way. Life is about putting your whole self in—now!

Temple Hayes is a spiritual trailblazer for our time. In addition to When Did You Die?, she has also authored How to Speak Unity (DeVorss) and The Right to Be You (Temple Hayes Ministries). Her popular radio show The Intentional Spirit reaches millions around the world. Temple is the founder of Life Rights, a non-profit organization dedicated to the right of all to live the life of their intention in freedom and peace, and the SOFI Project, a non-profit organization that rescues and rehabilitates dogs and cats globally.

© 2014 Temple Hayes
Excerpt Courtesy of HCI Books

image 1: Cliff Diver via Shutterstock; image 2: sister and brother dancing via Shutterstock