My Spontaneous Spiritual Awakening

About Celeste

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Battling alcoholism for 20 years, Celeste was stuck in a vicious cycle, unable to see a way out. She likens addiction to being on a hamster wheel, feeling exhausted but unable and too afraid to stop; where the safer option is to continue running.
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My search for a cure for anxiety

1.5 years into sobriety, I began to experience anxiety. These bouts of anxiety would last days at a time, at its worst it lasted 2 months! Usually triggered by some physical symptom which was never logical, it would spiral into anxiety and terror. Even resulting in a panic attack once.

Prescribed medication for treatment was my last option. I did not want to become dependent on any chemicals and thus began my search for a cure, and to uncover what was causing my anxiety.

I discovered holistic healing and BodyTalk was my entry point. Soon after, I discovered Gong meditation, which led me to my first cacao ceremony in Bali facilitated by Kevin Westrich (aka Joseph White Owl). A few months later in July 2019, I attended his 3 day “soulful journey” workshop with a good friend.

On my way to Bali for the workshop, my anxiety was off the charts. It started at Changi airport and kept building. During the workshop, my anxiety was at its peak. I was a blackout drunk and had a fear of being sexually assaulted. Kevin asked me to visualize (if indeed there was such an incident) my assailant across from me. He asked me what I wanted to do or say.

Forgiveness and a feather from Kazakhstan

Suddenly I “heard” IT DOES NOT MATTER. The best way I can describe this was a deep knowing in that moment, that it did not matter. I immediately said, ‘If this happened, I forgive you.’ There were no mind stories, no fear, anger, or shame. Just a sense of peace and calm that suddenly washed all over me. Kevin brought out a feather (I was later told, was from Kazakhstan) placing it in my hands. My eyes started to ‘flicker’ for what felt like minutes at a crazy speed and here is when everything started.

Even in my wildest imagination, I would never be able to make this up!

Side note: Before this, I did not know anything about spirituality. I did not meditate. All I desperately wanted was to get better from my anxiety. This came as a complete shock, like a divine loving slap in the face 😀

The experience itself – in nonlinear time 🤯

Now I understand my experience was not in linear time. Because I had a friend with me who witnessed the whole thing, when I tried to recount my experience, my friend would correct me on the sequence. Non-linear time has always been just a concept in theory, till I experienced it first-hand! Bear with me as I recount different parts of what I experienced, as it will sound like I am jumping ‘all over the place’.

I felt a HUGE surge of energy, as if I was standing right in front of a huge turbine. The energy started to course through my entire body and I had to lie down on my back. At one point it was so strong, Kevin was supporting me at my feet and my friend was supporting my head. My whole body was shaking. The energy was moving up my face, I couldn’t even speak.

At one point, I felt myself peel out of my body up to my waist as I was trying hard to “keep it together” so I wouldn’t entirely peel out of my body! I heard the words “come home” – I didn’t know what to make of it then, now I think of it as a call to remember who I am. What stuck with me was a sense of peace and love. I recall thinking, oh if this is what dying and going to the other side feels like, I’m down with that. Since that experience, it has shifted my perspective on death.

Moving along…

A huge serpent appeared and wanted to “swallow” me. I mentioned this and Kevin asked if I felt safe to allow it. I don’t remember much else from this except feeling safe in its belly.

A huge pair of eyes appeared, I could not tell if they were the eyes of a large feline or that of a woman. It seemed to be both. 2 years later, I would come to realize that it was Sekhmet, the Egyptian Goddess of transformation. 

I saw a bear walking towards me, and it smiled. I recall chuckling and saying “Oh, it smiled at me, I didn’t know bears could smile!” The bear continued to approach me and I felt it merge with me. No doubt our human mind is unable to comprehend this. If someone told me this, I would have thought they were bonkers.

I felt my spirit animal the bear merge with me, and I felt my hands as paws. They felt like HUGE bear paws. Something so freaking nuts yet, so real. I even felt the urge to get on my fours and growl (thinking to myself, what… the… hell?!). I was completely lucid, even able to “warn” my friend before growling, knowing she was likely freaking out inside.

For those wondering, there was no plant medicine involved.

I recall a garden scene, where I was teaching kids and commented “how odd, I never wanted to be a teacher especially not teaching kids!” Months later, I discovered the Gene Keys and found out that my life purpose 39.6 is a “teacher of liberation”!

These were the key parts of my experience which lasted slightly over an hour. And boy was I exhausted for almost 2 weeks after. It was an energetic deep cleanse, which left me lighter than ever before.

We are not separate

My life completely changed from that day. I was never connected to nature but I started to find myself reaching out to touch tree trunks, wanting to sit on the grass… I experienced love in a way I never felt before. My capacity to feel began to expand from that day. I started to understand (in a felt sense) that we are all connected, we are not separate from the Earth.

A Heart Awakening

In one of first few gong meditation sessions, I saw my heart in a steel cage. What this experience did was break open that cage. I began my journey with Mama Cacao, and with the aid of this gentle heart medicine I began to transcend the layers of my heart. It took me a year to realise the heart opening impact ceremonial cacao had for me.

Unchartered Territory and its Challenges

The weeks and months after my awakening experience I felt a range of emotions. From utter bliss and love, to confusion and a sense of loss. Initially I was so excited to share my experience but soon began to realise everyone had different reactions to it.

Some friends were supportive and curious, some were not even ready to ask and hear about it. At times it felt like I was trying to convince others that my experience was real. It took me a while but I realized as long as I know what is real and true to me, that’s enough. If a friend shared such an experience, I would likely be just as skeptical.

Navigating friendships in my awakening journey has been a big learning piece. Little by little, I was unable to relate to friends who have been such a large part of my life. It was sad, alienating, and very lonely at times. I was riddled with guilt towards friends who used to take such great care of me for years when I was a terrible drunk. Suddenly I felt like I was speaking a different language. I wanted so badly for them to understand me and felt rejected when they couldn’t.

At the same time, completely clueless about spirituality and desperately trying to make sense of my experience. I was looking on the internet, searching for books, etc. It wasn’t easy, and through various courses and navigating the information I could find, committing to my inner work and spiritual practice, I started to feel my way around.

This is a motivation now for me to share more openly about my experience which I hope will be helpful to others who might be going through their awakening.

A Leap of Faith

My awakening happened in July 2019. In Dec 2019, I left my job. A job which I liked but started to lose its meaning. I left with a burning fire, ready to start looking for investors, to open a sound studio because I had fallen in love with the gong and wanted to share the benefits of sound baths with others.

A few months later, the pandemic started, and the world went into lockdown. My plans were completely thrown out of the window. This was the true beginning of my initiation into the way of the heart.

An initiation into the way of the heart

A complete dismantling of how I saw myself, how I valued my worth, how I worked. A stripping away of EVERYTHING that made up parts of my identity. It felt like I was losing everything – and to be honest, even right now, at times it still feels like that. But I was shown that nothing is being taken away, it is in fact a clearing out of what stands in the way of me experiencing my true essence. Sounds good conceptually, but is no easy task.

As a product of the Hustle and Grind culture, I was a firm believer of if you want something done, you need to get up and get it done! I used to joke previously that I was always good at “drinking and getting shit done”. Suddenly, nothing was going my way. Every plan I had would not pan out. It has been (and is still ongoing) a humbling experience of stretching and building my capacity to surrender and trust. To let go of old programs and the way of the mind.

Leaving 12-Steps and Staying Sober

By Celeste Chong | November 26, 2023

Why I made the difficult decision to leave AA and how I stayed sober.

How I Healed from Anxiety

By Celeste Chong | November 25, 2023

What I wish I knew about the root cause of anxiety back when I was desperately trying to make sense of it.

My Spontaneous Spiritual Awakening

By Celeste Chong | November 23, 2023

Never in my wildest imagination! This transformational experience changed the course of my life.