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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Attuning to the Still, Small Voice Within: Six local experts share their experiences and practices

Nov 30, 2015 11:28AM ● By Linda Sechrist

Spirit communicates with soul in inaudible whispers. To be guided by God, our soul depends on Spirit’s directives, particularly in our darkest moments, when negative thinking can dominate and Spirit’s murmurs become imperceptible. Although we might surmise in such tumultuous times that guidance, light, love and healing are unavailable, this is only false evidence appearing real. Turning off or turning down the volume of this negative mind chatter is possible if we have been faithful to a spiritual practice that we can maintain long enough to detach from our thoughts and focus our attention in the present moment, the only space in which we can feel the presence of God’s spirit and hear the still soft voice. Natural Awakenings turned to six local experts to learn about their experience with practices that attune them to Spirit.

Goddess I AM

Beth Brown-Rinella, owner of Goddess I AM, in Naples, leads guided meditations and uses them in her spiritual practice. “Guided meditation was the method I used to overcome the challenge of clearing my mind of all thought,” she says.

Lighting a candle and using a ritual helps to bring Brown-Rinella into the present. “My daylong ritual starts in the morning upon rising. I give thanks for the day yet to come. Then I light a candle and an incense stick to fill my space with an uplifting scent.  While brewing my tea, I read a page or two of spiritual encouragement, and then step outside to look up at the sky and offer gratitude. These simple rituals bring focus and help me to stay on course with my personal and spiritual growth,” she notes.

Open Mind Zen

Yoga and Zen meditation practice have helped Laurie Lyons, co-founder of Open Mind Zen, in Naples, live in present tense. “In Zen meditation, I am present, but not communicating with anyone outside myself, so there's no asking an outside authority for help or love. There's only looking inward with the understanding that there is no out there separate from in here, and that I am the love I seek. Everything I need is right here, right now. Some interpret this realization of connection as unification with God. In Zen, we just use different words,” she comments.

Lyons likes to quote the 13th-century Zen Master, Dogen Zenji. “To study the way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be awakened by all things.” She explains, “When I meditate, I am watching the content and the happenings of my mind and body. Over time, I let go of a lot of stuff that is not real and come to see the world differently. I awaken to things in the present as they actually are, rather than how I think they are,” advises Lyons.

In quieting my mind or taking the position of observer and focusing attention on my heart center, I engage and strengthen the deeper part of myself that is attuned to the whisperings of Spirit. ~Gwen Peterson

Mystical Moon

Nicole Sandhu, store manager at Mystical Moon, in Fort Myers and Bonita Springs, has learned how to feel her connection with Spirit by developing trust. “In my opinion, trust is the most important tool for learning to be present to Spirit. Doubt causes a fuzzy connection or one that feels non-existent. Through regular meditation practice, a few leaps of faith and using tools such as oracle cards, I learned to stop doubting and trust that Spirit is always near, always offering me guidance and always has my best interest at heart. I no longer second-guess my experiences or the signs and messages showing me that I am connected,” says Sandhu.

Another important tool for Sandhu is disconnecting physically, mentally and electronically from the outside world on a weekly basis for at least one hour a day, and sometimes for a whole day. “During this time, I focus more on intention-filled activities—listening to a CD of chants, guided meditation or reading books such as Gary Zukav’s Seat of the Soul—which are geared towards enhancing my spiritual connection,” clarifies Sandhu.

Center of Eternal Light

Diana Palm’s practice and teaching of Theta Healing to her clients has strengthened her ability to connect and use the benefits of deep meditation. “The brain can be trained to generate theta waves, a state of very deep relaxation used in hypnosis and during REM sleep, in an instant,” says Palm, who sees clients at the Center of Eternal Light, in Fort Myers. “This new, yet timeless reconnection allows for clearing the web of old wounds, which is what allows a person to see, hear and feel Spirit. Everyone can learn to tap into the energy of theta waves for self-healing or for the benefit of helping others,” explains Palm, a theta healing instructor and author of Setting Spirits Free.

Hidden Wholeness

Kathy Hall, energy healer and owner of Hidden Wholeness, is the author of The Pocket Guide to Presence, an e-book about getting and being present. “I wrote about my own simple techniques, such as how upon waking in the morning I pause to feel the sheets, my feet on the floor and even the clothes against my skin. I pay attention, and as my thoughts wander away to other things, I bring them back to the room again,” notes Hall, who also explains that she talks aloud to the thoughts that generate feelings of fear or discomfort. “This keeps me present to my inner feelings that are reacting to what I think is going on around me, and reminds me that the world is not doing things to me that I am reacting to.”

Hall notes that it’s also good to go outside for a walk or run. “This helps me to connect to my physical body, which also keeps me present. The most important way I get and stay present is to consistently notice when I am ‘not’ present and bring my awareness back,” she advises.

Spiritual Communities Network

Gwen Peterson is the founder of, which has spread from Naples to Sarasota and St. Petersburg. In addition to managing an online community calendar for Spirit strengthening group activities and a member directory, Peterson leads Your Soul Connection heart-opening meditations. “My heart center is my connection point to soul, which is one with God's grace. This connection is always there and flowing to me. In quieting my mind or taking the position of observer and focusing attention on my heart center, I engage and strengthen the deeper part of myself that is attuned to the whisperings of Spirit. It wasn’t enough to just feel that presence flowing to me. I wanted to develop a dialogue. As I did this, I began to sense Spirit’s guidance every day, in every moment,” says Peterson.

Perhaps our communing with Spirit is the fulfillment of a desire to reunite our fragmented parts and reclaim a state of wholeness. This process, guided and inspired by Spirit, is why we need to listen so attentively for its whisperings.

Goddess I AM, 600 Goodlette Rd. N., Naples. For more information, call 239-228-6949 or visit

Open Mind Zen, 1250 Tamiami Trl. #205, Naples. 239-961-2491.

Mystical Moon, 8890 Salrose Ln., Ste. 107, Fort Myers; 8951 Bonita Beach Rd., Ste. 255, Bonita Springs; 239-939-3339.

Center of Healing Light, 260 Professional Pl., N. Fort Myers, 239-599-4700.

Hidden Wholeness, 407-538-3044,

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