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Shira Adler on Living More Spiritually
Since some of our listening audience may not yet know who you are, would you please tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Shira Adler. I am a writer, spiritual counselor, past-life regressionist, singer, single mother, human being. I add human being, because it's important for so many of us to remember we are celestial beings having a human experience.
At an early age I experienced great sadness including the kidnapping of my siblings—my father prefers the term relocation—during a nasty custody battle, the attempted dissolution of my mother by her own hand—I'll leave it to your imagination to figure that one out, as I wish to avoid using labels that might hurt the living—bankruptcy, four failed marriages, and the abuse my eldest and I suffered at the hands of husband number three.
Because I had a desire to be heard in a spiritual setting, I began using my voice to sing in festivals, concerts, and in Jewish synagogues. This led to my becoming a Cantor, which for those of you who don't know is an ancient profession, much like being a Rabbi, only we sing, don't get nearly the respect a Rabbi gets—particularly those of us who are women—and work much harder during the high holidays!
I spent the next 20 years as a Cantor singing in pulpits from Malibu and Pittsburgh to Greenwich and Mahopac, New York. Along the way I began writing, had two children, now almost eight and ten, and started working pretty hard to expand my consciousness beyond the traditional Jewish faith, because after all these years, I realized there was something lacking inside of me.
I had spent my entire adult life working as clergy, but wasn't happy, wasn't attracting the kind of jobs and relationships that offered a profound sense of well-being and satisfaction, so I asked myself what was missing?
What was missing was I had lost myself along the journey. I no longer knew what I really wanted to do with my life. Specifically, how did I wish to serve others, free from the restrictions, demands and expectations that others had all-too-willingly placed on me?
So, I found myself in workshops, training sessions, and mediation classes. I worked with some of the world's best teachers and healers. During this process I began to discover who I really was, and how I wanted to serve others began to take shape.
After years of cultivating a deeper, more connected sense of it all, today I live according to a very simple metaphor that explains who I am and how I best want to serve. It's called One Voice, Many Paths.
One Voice, Many Paths is an idea, a way of showing up in the world that allows for different modalities to coalesce in one person for the sake of bringing light, love, joy and help to others. So, whether I am singing, writing, talking, whether I am in the same room with you or you're reading my blog, checking out my web site (ShiraAdler.com), have booked a session with me as a past-life regressionist, or will soon pick up a copy of my new book, One Voice, Many Paths is the culmination of my life's work that says, I don't need any limitations on how we can connect. The only thing that matters is that we do.
My desire to reach and help others through the most painful chapters of their life knows no bounds. I believe by connecting with each other and sharing our stories we have the double opportunity of helping each other while healing ourselves.
My greatest joy is touching people and helping them activate their own connections, whatever they turn out to be.
One Voice, Many Paths: It’s more than my philosophy, it’s my passion.
I can say this to you, because it's what I believe. You are a great success. Because of what you've accomplished and where you are in life, what would you tell others to inspire them today, regardless of where they are in their life?
We all know that inspiration can change lives. Can you share a personal story of someone who inspired you and made a difference in your life or a defining moment or experience that inspired you or changed your life?
When I was sixteen, my family life was torn apart. While on a sabbatical in California, my mother filed for divorce and my father responded by breaking a restraining order and disappeared across the country with my three youngest siblings. I never saw my house, my friends, my things or my family intact, again. I know in my father’s mind he can “legally” justify his actions, but that meant little to me as a teenager struggling to make sense of this nightmare. Many years later the memory is still vivid. I came home from school and discovered my father’s near illegible handwritten note, stuck haphazardly on the coat stand in the entry way of our home. I slowly realized what had happened as the phone rang. More than my father’s voice, I heard the sound of my youngest siblings crying in the airport. With the with near crushing weight of despair in my chest, I raced through the house discovering closet and drawers ransacked and left ajar. Though it didn’t register at the time, that was the moment my transformation began. The labor pains of this life altering event gave birth to my core philosophy; I believe you have a choice in life. When something bad happens, you can choose to remain a “victim” or rise above it, move on and use the experience to help others. So, I guess I’d like to thank my father for being the catalyst for so much growth, though even now the tears from this memory are almost as fresh as they were twenty-five years ago.
You make it look easy, but I'm guessing you've experienced challenges in your life. Can you share with our listeners how that has strengthened you to reach success? In other words, how do you overcome adversity?
Adversity comes in an almost infinite variety of colors, shapes and sizes. But it should never be a forgone conclusion that the toughest episodes of your life will get the better of you. I should know. When I was twelve my mother attempted suicide and it changed everything I thought I knew about safety, happiness and life. Though I was too young to understand or incorporate the meaning of her choice, this terrible experience became the cornerstone for my biggest self-realization. Tenacity, optimism and inner strength are all qualities to draw on when your world comes unhinged, but they can only be accessed from the inside.
To this day I don’t fully understand why Mama did what she did. Of course her actions can be explained by stringing together a plethora of well articulated psychological diagnoses, but I needed more. Years later, as I opened my eyes to the possibility that western medicine doesn’t have all the answers, I knew there had to be alternative explanations for what had happened. Because of this early childhood trauma, I needed to push beyond the normal explanations, to find a deeper meaning and truth behind it all.
One of the best modalities I’ve come across that can jump start the healing process at almost light speed, is past-life regression. Made famous by Dr. Brian Weiss in his best-seller Many Lives, Many Masters, past-life regression is a remarkable tool to get to the heart of otherwise unexplainable behavior and interpersonal phenomenon, when nothing else, faith, science or circumstance, can.
I credit my mother’s profoundly courageous battle with mental illness as my motivation to help others. On a daily basis I work with clients in my private practice as a certified past-life regression. This process is particularly helpful for those in relationships and circumstances that cannot be fully understood through conventional explanations.
So in the end it’s not adversity or overcoming obstacles that truly is a benchmark for success. It’s the ability to harness our greatest challenges and find new and better ways of being present, of showing up with integrity and impeccability so that adversity becomes the engine that drives healing, inspires purpose and fuels accomplishment.
We all have ideas on how to improve our lives, whether it be a new job, moving to a new city, or finding love, but change can be a bit scary sometimes. Can you please share an experience with us where you "stepped off the ledge" with only faith, and took a big risk, based only on your belief that you would succeed?
I’m stepping off the ledge right now! The paradigm and religious model that I have been attached to for the majority of my career is ending. I’m making a big shift I hadn’t known I ever would, especially after having spiritually served for 25 years in the same capacity. It feels incredibly “right” to rely solely on my intuition and trust that whatever is coming will require my being available in a different way. So here I am showing up, ready to step into whatever I am meant to do next. If this sounds like you, I strongly encourage you to keep going! You can look before you leap but jump anyway! You don’t need to have all the answers, just be curious and watch for the signs.
How can others do what you did?
If there were a formula that one could emulate to make life easier, bring greater success with a healthy, balanced, calm existence, I’d gladly share it. I am still trying to figure out a way to have a shower without being interrupted by my children every five minutes. So proudly I admit I am very much a student of the learning-as-I-go school of life. Then again, isn’t that the point? If we could have written our life’s road map, we would probably have missed half the amazing sights we didn’t know we needed to see! So, the first thing I tell people is stay open to all the challenges and changes that come as a natural and inevitable part of their life experiences!
Everyone’s circumstances are different and yet there are certain universal truths that we all share. Change is not something to be afraid of and is certainly unavoidable. Even if you could avoid it, setting aside your old conditioned emotional responses, why would you want to avoid the very thing that prevents you from living a life of stagnation? In my opinion, that is hardly a life worth living.
What process, steps or exercises do you recommend that our listeners could do right now and each morning, to improve the quality of their lives?
Find joy in the simplest, smallest measures and if you can’t find it, create it. Take a moment to smile at yourself in the mirror (I do this with my children and it really works). If you are in a less than joyous mood, smile! You will see and feel an immediate shift. It’s simply not possible to be in a bad mood if there is a smiling face staring back at you from the mirror. It’s as if you’re tricking your psyche to think “hey, I must not be in a negative space anymore . . . see? I’m smiling! I guess I’m happy after all. Part two is an exercise I call M-m-m-m (Mini-Mama-Meditation-Moment). Let yourself zone out, ignore whatever sounds or thoughts are already starting to crowd out your just awakened peaceful morning brain and just for one minute focus on your breath—in through your nose and twice as slowly out your mouth. Think of nothing at all or count to 60. Rinse, repeat . . . . OK, just start with the 60 seconds and who knows, maybe one day you’ll actually find time to meditate each morning for 30 minutes. It’s good to set goals but be realistic about what you can do right now. After all the greatest journeys begin with a single breath.
What's the greatest joy in your life?
My voice. When I use it to sing whether in a car, congregation or concert, communicate through an Op-Ed piece, blog or poem or relax a client into a peaceful regression, I feel whole and holistically joyful. Knowing I am using the gifts I was given for the purposes they were intended, is a great blessing.
If you had to wrap up the wisdom of your life to leave as your legacy—call it YOUR BRILLIANCE—what important things that you've learned would you want to pass on to others?
My “brilliance” like my legacy, is a work in progress. I don’t profess to have many of the answers, but I know who I am; I’m not afraid to take chances, I live with an open heart and apparently whether I want to or not, I risk everything time and time again. Over the course of my relatively short life I have flown and crashed pretty badly, but that has never deterred me from seeing the beauty in the world around me. I suppose being an eternal optimist—some say I’m a lot like Pollyanna—is a good character trait when the you-know-what has hit the fan, and I’m beginning to believe it. No matter what the story, there is so much to be thankful for in every moment, especially in the darkest ones. In fact, it’s the shadows that help us appreciate the light. If things were easy, if I never experienced the pain of a broken heart, the sadness of moving away from family and friends, the death of a loved one, the confusion of (another) divorce, the challenges my beautiful high-strung children face, would I really appreciate the comfort of my memories, the excitement over making a new friend, the joy of falling in love (again), the sweetness of success, the tenderness of human touch.
Perhaps my greatest gift is that I truly believe in the fullness of life's possibilities. Time and time again, through all of my crazy experiences, I've been shown that miracles and magic exist. So I can honestly say I am grateful for everything I’ve been through and excited for all that I am becoming. As far as my legacy goes, I’ll have to wait a bit longer to look back and even then I’m sure I’ll want to make some edits to the manuscript.
If you had just one more thing that you could accomplish in your lifetime, what would it be?
I’d like to have a marriage and relationship last more than five years. I’d like to have my kids listen without having to fight them all the time. World peace might be more likely or at least easier. But truthfully, not having the answer is more important than knowing what that one thing might be. It’s not about seeking a specific accomplishment because that would end my process of not being motivated by outcome. I prefer to remain open, present and curious. The rest, no matter what it’s supposed to look like, will align in perfect order. How its all supposed to come together is part of the plan, and those beautiful details will reveal themselves in divine right timing. My job is to show up and be ready for whatever comes next . . . . Oh, and that’s your job too!