In August of 2005 I asked God to take my life.
After an impromptu musical performance in a hot night club in St. Tropez, exhilarated but confused, I was ready for my life, as I knew it then, to be over.
From the outside, it appeared that I had it all. Lots of talent and charisma, a beautiful home, sexy convertible sports car, million-dollar business and tons of money in the bank. At the tender age of 34 I had already published my first book, been on Oprah - twice - and was slightly famous.
I appeared in magazines and TV talk shows flashing a Colgate smile from ear to ear. "America's Empowerment Doctor" I was known for setting people free from illness, depression and dead-end careers. And I was good at it.
On the inside I was miserable. No body could tell, of course. But I was depressed, bored and I didn't like who I had become. My media image was that of a prudish know-it-all who wasn't even following her own advice "Honor your dreams, for they are the treasures of your soul." Yeah, right! I'm a performing artist with a medical degree - an actress who plays a doctor on TV. At that point, I wasn't honoring my dream to sing, act and be in movies.
My life felt like a lie. So, sitting in a tiny hotel room in Cannes, the South of France, I cried out to God to take it all - my life, my business, my talents, my body. I said, "I don't know what I'm doing with my life! So take it."
I was wracked with an intense painful longing for meaning, a glimmer of joy, some kind of relief. Death felt like it would be a great relief. "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." So the Bible says.
In total despair, I sobbed, cried and doubled over as my body shook with pain. I flung myself on the bed praying to God to take my life. And I thought S/he was about to. The room started to fill with an intense bright white light. It seemed like the Sun was shining from the inside of my brain. But that didn't hurt. It was relief.
The shaking of my body quieted down to a mild vibration - that I felt from the inside. I started to feel the most bizarre weightless sense of calm as I melted into the bed, or became one with the bed, levitating, floating...
I had a thought flash into my mind, "Oh snap! I'm about to die!" I thought God was answering my prayer.
Then the vibration of my body stopped, the bright light faded to grey then black. I was surrounded by quiet darkness - a void. And I felt not like I was one with the bed, but that I was just One.
I no longer felt like 'me'. I was aware of the concept of Andrea Pennington, but I felt like I was more than her. I felt Oneness as me.
Then another thought flashed into my mind, "Oh shiat! This is what some of my psychotic patients have described! I'm losing my mind."
I felt myself on the edge of reality. I felt as though the Oneness that I was was floating toward an edge, a line, if you will. I knew that if I allowed myself to keep going toward that line, that cliff, that I would exist no more. I felt like that would be the end of my conscious life. I felt as though reaching that edge would mean falling into a forever of darkness and no-'me'-ness.
Rather than being scared I was really curious - and surprisingly calm. I didn't resist at all. I wondered what God was showing me. And another thought came both to and from me - through me - in the form of a question, "Who am I?"
The response came in a vision and words that rocked my world.
At once I felt a supreme peace and awareness of myself as being pure consciousness and unconditional love. And a Truth bubbled up and surrounded 'me' in all directions. The Truth sort of echoed in me, not in audible words, but clear as day: "I Am That I Am. I Am Whatever I Say I Am."
Wait, what the...? OK I got the first Biblical reference, but the second refrain seemed sneakily familiar - a rap lyric in my Near Death Experience?" OK, God does have a hip-hop sense of humor!
At once I knew firsthand that what the Mystics have always said is true, "I Am God. I Am pure consciousness. I Am divine Love."
A rush of joyful recognition of my Truth flooded through my consciousness like a balloon hooked up to a turbo charged helium canister. I expanded beyond our solar system in infinite directions until I felt that I was the whole Universe - and beyond.
From a detached perspective I could see an overview of my life. I realized that in life on Earth, I, God, inhabit all things and as a human I Am what I choose. I understood that my earthly expression of my Soul essence was a bit arbitrary and totally of my choosing. And that there is no 'wrongness' in my choice, but that my Soul does have tendencies, desires and preferences.
As I allowed the peace to bypass and replace all of my previous earthly thinking and biases, I felt a total acceptance to return to my life, but with renewed enthusiasm to live according to my Soul's deepest desires.
As I said, "Yes" to life, I saw a scene unfold in my imagination. At some point in the future I saw myself living in the South of France, walking along the beach holding a man and child's hand. I knew that I would be singing professionally and that I would be healing others through some sort of energy healing.
At this point there was no resistance to these somewhat 'out there' concepts - considering I was single, trained as an allopathic doctor, and hadn't sung professionally a day in my life!
Now, 9 years later I am living in the South of France with my daughter. I have sung professionally in Europe and America and even practice qi gong healing. It wasn't easy to make the break, however. When I returned to the US, during the first few months the 'other side' experience was so fresh in my mind and heart that nothing could sway me from following through with my Soul's vision. But the social programming and familial pressures caused me to falter, backtrack and delay my departure for awakened authentic living.
It took me 5 years to move to France and another 4 to settle in and believe that it was real! After cutting the ties with my former way of life and anchoring myself in my Truth I am now sharing my experiences with others to help them see their Truth, setting them free to live their Truth.
From practicing medicine in the US and coaching people around the world, I know how hard it is to break out of old patterns. I have seen how difficult it can be to embrace new habits, new ways of thinking and cutting unhealthy people, places and things out of our lives. It is hard for us because our culture has not favored individuality, trusting our intuition and expressing our true selves.
Our culture has not taught us to love, cherish and value ourselves.
But living and studying in Central America, Mexico and Europe has exposed me to spiritual leaders, deep thinkers and native cultures that have made authentic living seem normal and natural. They have taught it to their young and made it a part of everyday life such that businesses, families and communities thrive. Innovation and creativity outweigh the tendency toward competition and conformity. Peace, joy and inner harmony outweigh frustration, depression and addiction.
It is my intention to share the combined lessons that my Oneness experience taught me and those I've learned from people I've interviewed around the world through a documentary film and book.