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Suzanne Toro: Surrendering into Bliss

--Bela Shah, on Sep 13, 2012
 

On last Saturday’s Forest Call we were graced with the almost mystical presence of Suzanne Toro. She is many things, including a spiritual healer, writer, and visionary consultant. But what is captivating about Suzanne’s presence is not what she does but how she does it. Her compassionate spirit effortlessly soaks into the tapestry of everything she touches. How Suzanne chooses to live and give has cultivated a life of integrity that impacts her family, her community, and our shared world.

“If we do our inner work, we can reach a level of awareness at any given time, whether we’re pumping gas or staring into an ocean. And this awareness can feel like bliss, where you reach a point of connection that is indescribable.”

This commitment to inner work (partly through meditation) is interlaced with Suzanne’s devotion to help others. Every step of the way, since she was a young child, she has felt an inner calling to serve. But arriving to an internal place where she feels that she is serving without ego, has been a lifelong journey, riddled with personal challenges.  As a spiritual healer, Suzanne views these challenges that have arisen along the way as tools for improving the work that needs to be done.

What does it mean to spiritually heal an individual that is suffering?  Her experiences have intensified Suzanne's natural ability to understand what an individual or a community needs, and she applies different healing modalities to patients that are suffering from painful chemotherapy and to parents that have lost their children.  Through the healing process, a common thread Suzanne finds in suffering is that people are seeking inner peace and desire a life without fear.

“Fear is the root of all healing on this planet.” Suzanne explained that in society, the question often becomes, “When do we speak and when do we not? When do we take action and when do we not?” And often, we don’t speak or take action because of our own stuff. We’re concerned with how we’re going to listen or react and the root of that is just fear. Suzanne believes that if you are able to run straight into fear and surrender to it, this will liberate you.

Poignantly reflecting on her personal experience, she shared a very difficult period in her life when she was asked to run straight into her own fear. While sitting by the bedside of her terminally ill brother, he asked her to fulfill one last wish. Suzanne has the special ability to practice astral projection, the ability to leave her physical body and connect with souls in other dimensions. Her brother asked Suzanne to bring his spirit to his funeral service through her. Suzanne had a choice in that moment to get scared. “I wondered, am I going to be able to show up? What if I become attached to my brother and don’t let him go?” In that moment, she had to decide that she was not his sister. She had to say to herself that she was nonattached and that she would be the medicine woman for her family.

“I surrendered to the fear and it was liberating for my brother and for my family. I was able to rise up in that moment and think beyond myself and the person that needed to suffer. I was able to think beyond the person that needed to grieve for her brother.”

This intense and very personal experience holds a key revelation: it’s up to us how much we want to suffer; it’s our choice whether we want to turn a moment of suffering into a moment of learning. And the moment of learning is the bliss, the heightened awareness of our innate gifts, our interconnectedness, and our great potential to serve from an authentic place.

In her book, “Bare Naked Bliss”, Suzanne writes, “You can’t always have what you want but sometimes you get what you need.” The book is a practical guide for healing from pain and suffering, and coming to a state of bliss. Following is an excerpt from her book:

One night, I effortlessly put down the chocolate bar and the glass of wine. I returned to my quiet meditation space and dipped into the silence, my reliable and comforting friend. I took one giant deep breath awakening a desire to regain my strength and power once more. I surrendered to the external world and embraced my infinite power within. I realized at that point I was ready to truly commit and let go. I did not have to harbor the pain and, at minimum, I could start to manage all the stress in a more productive way. This tool enabled me to move forward and be present with my life in that moment. I do not want to suggest that I did one meditation and everything was back to normal; however, I knew within that meditation that I would survive. I was at ground zero and ready to let go and move forward with life. During times of suffering you can always rely on silence; no person, place or thing can take away your silence. Within your silence you will have the confidence to trust, wait and see. The healing will begin.”

Being in solitude and silence by connecting with nature is another way Suzanne suggests we can heal our spirits. As an adolescent, when she was experiencing confusion or difficulty, Suzanne would tell her parents that she was out with friends and instead drive into the desert to connect with nature. Through nature, Suzanne was able to connect back to herself.

Just as the Service Space models keep it simple, I think it should be the same with nature. Sometimes we get too complex with handling Mother Earth. She is the master, she creates butterflies and seasons. She is managing us by actually trying to intervene with her systems on a daily basis. I would encourage everyone to think about Mother Earth by just laying on her and thinking about all the beauty she provides us. We are always trying to perfect things but we miss that we are that perfection. Maybe it’s just about enjoying the perfection that already exists rather than trying to create it. Enjoy the bee drinking from the flower or help a worm back into the soil if it gets lost on the sidewalk. When you put your hand back into the soil, you start communing with nature instead of trying to create something out of balance with nature.”

These are lessons that Suzanne is actively imbibing into her two kids. She recently took her son on a vision quest into nature. For those not familiar with a vision question, it has been described as a rite of passage in some Native American cultures and a means to find spiritual guidance and purpose. Suzanne spent several nights secluded in nature with her son, helping him to explore his identity through tea ceremonies and dream interpretation. She described how her son connected with a level of fear in his dream state and by confronting this fear, was able to discover a well of inspiration and purpose within him.

Her children also teach Suzanne quite a bit:).

“My kids teach me about humility and when to bow down to them. If I say something I didn’t mean, my daughter will call me out on it and say, “That doesn’t sound like the mother I know!”

Together, they enjoy performing random acts of kindness, or “ding-dong ditches”, as Suzanne described them. They will prepare beautiful gifts and packages for neighbors and families in need and leave them anonymously at the door. In any form of giving, whether it’s direct or anonymous, Suzanne and her children are always working to align their giving with the purest of intentions.

"I’m mindful of how I give because I want to give from a real pure place and not from my own self need or ego.”

Mindfulness is ever evolving, but for Suzanne this a daily practice. Although she has experienced moments when she believed she was serving from an inauthentic place, her commitment to the inner work has resulted in beautiful fruits of advice:

“I believe that if we listen, things just arrive. If you pay attention, you can see where you are supposed to serve and then you’re more equipped with your full tool chest to help where it’s needed.”