My Personal LifeQuake Journey

Toni Headshot

I have often been asked to summarize my own personal journey that led to writing The LifeQuake Phenomenon. Although most of it is revealed in the pages of this book, I decided to share just my story here in my blog. I warn you: it is the length of reading three blogs or about 5 pages of a self help book.

The LifeQuake Model was birthed after my third near fatal experience. I say near fatal rather than near death because NDE’s have a particular phenomenology highlighted by traveling through a tunnel and seeing a whitelight and family menbers or spiritual beings.

My near fatal experiences did not take me out of this life and in fact were characterized by long periods IN the tunnel, stuck between cycles of my life.

In the LifeQuake Model there are seven stages. Prior to my first near fatal experience when I was 21 years old, I was working on skid row fresh out of undergraduate school. I had moved to California six months before and finding a job had been difficult. However, having grown up in a white, middle class suburb the exposure to the mean streets of downtown Los Angeles proved to be quite the education I hadn’t received before. At first, I was fascinated by this subculture of people and their actual preference for living on the streets. There were doctors who had become alcoholics along with your usual addicts. But soon, this novelty wore off and I became bored with my job, feeling unchallenged by the work. Boredom is the first stage of a LifeQuake. Around this time I met my soon to be husband and he suggested I leave the job but I was fiercely independent and didn’t want him supporting me so I stayed. And when you don’t change your life at this stage, you enter stage two – the dying of the old life that is often characterized by depression. I started dreading going to work. I had to go to bed at 9 in order to be up at 5 and at work at 6 AM.

And then stage Three hit – the crisis and radical severance from the old cycle. One day, an addict got through reception high on PCP. I didn’t know he was on drugs. I just observed that he was causing a commotion with other patients in the facility and I went over to talk to him. Suddenly, he flipped out and started choking my throat. Everyone was stunned and paralyzed by fear except for one woman. She had been a doctor in Russia and had emigrated but had been forced to work as a phlebotomist in this facility. She was a big woman and began pulling on his arm. PCP infuses one with super human strength, unfortunately, so he threw her in one direction and me up against the wall and then ran out.

I was rushed to the hospital with hand print bruises all over my neck and began a three month course in rehabilitation. During this time, I began having nightmares in which the assault was taking place all over again. I had entered stage four. I was in a void. No job, no clue as to what to do next. My fiancé suggested I get therapy. During the course of my therapy, I started asking the therapist questions about her work and where she went to school. I had mentioned that as a kid my father nicknamed me Dear Abby because my friends would often ask for my advice. She suggested that perhaps I take a course and see if it was for me. I enrolled in graduate school and took one course. I loved it and started full time in the fall. This began Stage Five of my LQ. In stage five, you apprentice at what you discovered as your calling in stage four. Although I went on to be very successful as a psychotherapist and owning a beautiful home with two offices, stage six and seven as I came to know them did not crystallize for me until my next LifeQuake. In the LifeQuake model, stage six is the stage in which you experience life as abundant no matter how it shows up and it is this perception that creates wealth as you would have it. Stage seven is characterized by quantum altruism where the individual experiences that out of helping those they serve they themselves are served. This has a quantum effect and leads eventually to the entire planet having this consciousness of oneness.

My second LifeQuake began four years later when once again the cycle of my life was completing and I was afraid of making the change. I started feeling bored and unchallenged once again and I tried to quell the boredom with weekly shopping trips to South Coast Plaza and multiple glasses of wine every night after working all day with my patients. When this didn’t work, I started to feel like a zombie, dead man walking through my life. What ended stage two this time was a series of three car accidents in six days. In the second of the two accidents, my car spun like a tea cup at Disney land across four lanes of an eight lane interchange and stopped facing Friday night traffic. It was in the middle of this one that I surrendered my life for the first time and asked that my death not be painful.
But it didn’t fully wake me up until the third accident two days later when it now involved other people and I wasn’t even driving the car. Once again, during my recuperation, I realized my life in Orange County: my marriage, my career, and my home were all structures I needed to leave.

When I entered stage four this time, I had moved back to Los Angeles and had begun a serious search to discover who I really was. In this void, I meditated and waited to be shown my next calling. I was given these seven stages for helping me to overcome the fear of change by providing a context for holding my experience. However, this time around Stage Four was more complex. It was as though a Pandora’s box of diseases began to manifest: Epstein Barr, Hashimotos thyroiditis, candida, and a host of allergies.

I ran through all the money from my property settlement trying to find medical help for the physical challenge du jour. As I struggled to support myself, my body began to go through yet another kind of challenge. My electrical system had become extremely sensitive. Energy would shoot through my body like lightning bolts sometimes for hours at a time. I could feel earthquakes before they hit, I felt a body blow the day before 9/11 that put me in a fetal position on my sofa on Sept 10, 2001.

What I learned through the years though was to begin to notice when change was coming. So in 2001 I had my own internal tower of inferno through out the year leading up to my third near fatal experience. I had become very fatigued and was developing respiratory challenges and then unexplained rashes. I mentioned to my acupuncturist who was treating me that I noticed grey stains forming on the linoleum in my kitchen. She suggested that perhaps my symptoms had a geopathic origin. In other words, my house was making me sick. I called in an environmental consultant and was told that everything in my house was contaminated by the most virulent, toxic fungus there is. Everything would have to be torched that could not survive a 50% bleach solution.

I had to walk away from everything I owned once again. But this time there was no resistance. I walked out the door and lived in a motel for two months and it would be another year of healing and recovery and dim prognoses from doctors who did not know how to treat neurotoxins. I applied some of the visualizations I gave to my patients and began to cooperate with my own healing abilities, choosing to hold a different prediction for my health than what the medical community could provide. I realized that I had chosen at a soul level to walk the path of a wounded healer: that every illness I encountered I had to heal myself without medical intervention. Having this context to hold my journey in allowed me to surrender. I chose to hold my time in transition without my health, a partner, family to depend on, or monetary resources as a time of great prosperity and eventually it did turn.

Although I would never say I have mastered change, I have become very observant and agile, aware that it can all change in a New York minute. I notice when anything in my life is no longer viable, and that includes beliefs along with lifestyle.

Each major change has taught me to listen, observe, and adapt, listen, observe, and adapt. By listening and observing where change is happening subtly, I have learned to prepare for bigger changes coming. When you are prepared, nothing has to be experienced as a crisis. As I write this, I am aware that a big change is coming again. I am being shown through my sleeping dreams, people I am meeting, and environmental disruptions ( my house was hit by a run away car) that change is afoot and that I must detach from my life as I know it.

This road, however steep, has also taught me the true nature of impermanence– things, people, my body all will eventually disintegrate and what really matters is how I spend this moment. Am I risking telling the truth in this moment, even if it requires facing the fear of loss? Telling the truth in my career and relationships has liberated me to reveal a new life blueprint that is constantly evolving and not encased by the faulty layers of cultural programs I inherited.

Mastering the building elements of the seven stages of my book The LifeQuake Phenomenon reconstructs the foundation of your body, mind, and spirit so that it is adaptable to change and what emerges is an authentic connection to this moment.